The Obama administration has said it has been frantically working to fix big technical problems with the HealthCare.gov site following its disastrous launch in October.
There have been hardware upgrades and other changes, and officials hope to have the site up and running smoothly for most people by Saturday.
But then the administration also says the weekend deadline is not a panacea, that problems could still occur. What, then, should consumers expect?
Here are five things to know about HealthCare.gov this weekend.
1) The site
HealthCare.gov is the lynchpin of Obamacare and is meant to be used by 36 states to enroll millions in insurance now required by law. Fourteen states offer their own programs under Obamacare and those, by and large, have fared better. So far, about 200,000 people overall have signed up through the federal and state programs under the Affordable Care Act, far below expectations.
2) Saturday’s goal: Jeff Zients, the noted management consultant brought in to oversee fixes to the site following the October launch debacle, says an around-the-clock effort by teams of contractors and programmers is on track to have HealthCare.gov working at the level it was originally intended. That is 50,000 users at any one time and 800,000 users per day.
3) Expect “queuing”: Zients and others have said there will be times, including this weekend, when more than 50,000 users try to access the site at any given time. If that happens, they have installed a “queuing system” so that users over that threshold will get an e-mail telling them to return to the site when fewer people are using it.
4) What are insurers saying?: CNN’s Chris Frates and others report there are real problems with the back end of the site. Imagine the front end is the part viewed by people trying to get insurance. The back end is the part that interacts with insurers trying to deliver it. That part of the site has not been entirely built yet.
5) How will the public know if things working as planned?: There will be anecdotal evidence for sure, but there won’t much data on grading the fix immediately following the deadline. Specifics remain closely guarded. But Zients says the administration will release updates on site metrics, monitored in real time, and user experience and success rates “as we go forward.” New enrollment figures are not expected for a couple of weeks. The enrollment period runs until March 31, and officials have said the target for the first year was 7 million people.
Z. Byron Wolf and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.