supposedly getting fixed by Thanksgiving

Plan on insurance shopping while digesting your pie

Published: October 25, 2013 03:59 PM

Q. I have an account on but can't get through to actually complete an application. I get repeated account "confirmation" e-mails instead. It's like that movie "Groundhog Day." My insurance company is canceling my policy on Jan. 1 so I really need to get something else. Help!

A. Good news first. Jeffrey Zients, the administration official who's leading the "tech surge" to fix the glitch-ridden portal to Health Insurance Marketplaces in 36 states, promised today that "by the end of November will operate smoothly for the vast majority of users."

The tech experts who've looked over the system have, to no one's surprise, found dozens of problems not only with the site's ability to handle the crush of users, but also with software that prevents its many moving parts from working together like they should, Zeints said. "We're going to punch out fixes one by one," he said in a call with reporters. "Each week the site will get better."

Already, he said, 90 percent of new users can successfully create an account. But at times, he said, as few as three out of 10 people with accounts have been able to fill out applications and, unfortunately, you're among the seven unlucky ones.

When I got your note I promised you I'd join the call and try to ask what you should do, and I'm happy to report I succeeded. But the answer was a little vague, to say the least. Apparently, anyone who's having problems creating an account or starting an application will get some kind of personal communication from the folks at, but when and in what form, no one could say. I've sent a followup query for details.

In the meantime, you might try giving up on your current account and creating a new one, if will let you do this. And let's all hope the site really is working by Thanksgiving, because as you have probably already figured out, if you want new insurance in place by Jan. 1, you have to enroll no later than Dec. 15.

Got a question for our health insurance expert? Ask it here. It helps if you include the state you live in.

—Nancy Metcalf

Health reform countdown: We are doing an article a day on the new health care law until Jan. 1, 2014, when it takes full effect. (Read the previous posts in the series.) To get health insurance advice tailored to your situation, use our Health Law Helper.

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