More fail from the people who want you to trust them with your healthcare

Big Money

New member, the clearinghouse for applications under the Affordable Care Act for 36 states, is clearly the most popular of all 16 exchange web sites. It’s probably also the most frustrating. So let’s go into more detail about a short journey — or attempt at one — in trying to sign up for Obamacare there.

Here’s what happened: We tried twice under two names to sign up. When we first clicked on the main page link to sign up for coverage, we were greeted with a request to wait. The first time, the wait lasted several minutes. Once we got on, we tried to sign on with the username and password we saved in the first of three unsuccessful attempts to log in from Tuesday through Thursday.

The system accepted our username and password and promptly went blank. And there it stayed.

So we tried again with a different name and password. The initial wait to start the process was about 30 seconds. Much better. But this is also where the frustration set in. Once we started to set up the account and answered the security questions, we were told we used an “invalid format for answers of security questions.” Session over.

Later we revisited and tried registering under both names. The first name ended the same way — with the blank page. We tried re-registering under the second name and this time we got past the security question stage. But then we signed on with our new user name and password and got the same blank page.

Clearly, it was time for some answers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which operates We got a few, but not all. In emails, CMS says 7 million Americans logged on to the Web site, but it’s unclear how many actually have made it all the way through and signed up for coverage. The agency says they probably won’t have figures on Obamacare enrollees until the middle of November.

CMS officials say they are trying to resolve the issues involved with the web site. We asked if they were short-handed due to the government shutdown. They may be, but that’s not clear. In a release, CMS says they will “continue large portions” of Obamacare activities under the shutdown.

Stay tuned to see if we ever get past that blank page.