Administration promises an end to Obamacare incompetence

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As the Obama administration scrambles to rectify the rocky rollout of the online health care marketplace, the Health Department said Sunday that it has enlisted the "best and brightest" to help fix the website's torrent of technical glitches and bugs as the president prepares to address the problems at the White House on Monday.

"Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve," the Department of Health and Human Services said in a blog post published Sunday.

The blog post also says technology officials have been working "around the clock" to ensure that individuals can create accounts and apply for health care coverage without any digital roadblocks.

"We're proud of these quick improvements, but we know there's still more work to be done," the post says. "We will continue to conduct regular maintenance nearly every night to improve the experience."

Extensive “glitches,” as the administration has called them, with the online marketplaces known as exchanges have made it impossible for most people to get all the way through the signup process, even after filling out the initial online application.

The longer the computer problems persist, the harder it will be to meet that goal. To get covered by Jan. 1, people must enroll by Dec. 15. But they can still sign up for coverage until the end of March 2014.

Administration officials Saturday night would not release any information. There’s no consensus on how long it could take to get the system up and running correctly, and HHS isn’t saying.

To get covered, people have to create the application, shop and compare health plans, find out if they qualify for a federal subsidy and how much in total they would have to pay, and then actually select and enroll in a specific health plan.

People have smashed into cyber-brick walls as they try to get through the flawed computer system which must process the information supplied by the applicant and check a massive “data hub” drawing on information from several massive federal agencies.

And even when people do manage to choose a plan, insurers and industry consultants say that the federal government is having trouble transmitting accurate and consistent data about who is signing up for which health plan.

That indicates the online system has problems at the back end, not just at the consumer entry point.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has declined to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Overall the state-based systems are working better than the massive federal one.

The Advisory Board, a business group that tracks health industry developments, tallied up the figures available as of Friday and found that about 192,000 people had applied, and roughly 55,000 had selected a health plan (although not all of them had paid in advance for the plan, so technically enrollment wasn’t completed).