An Important Technical Tip

If you are working with a form on a web site, and that web site seems to be stalling or slow to respond:

Don’t.

Just take a breath, slow down, bookmark the site or page, and come back later.

If the web site is overloaded with too much traffic or if there is some sort of bug in the coding , then there is very strong possibility that the data you enter is going to be lost.

If the system is running slowly because it is overloaded, you are not helping by adding to the load.

It’s kind of like when you wait for a bus or subway during rush hour traffic, and when it arrives it is crowded with human beings packed in like sardines. It might just skip the stop and whiz right by — but if it does stop, you have a choice to make. Do you try to squeeze into the narrow door along with the half dozen other commuters who are also standing next to you anxious to board. Or do you take a step back and wait for the next bus or train?

That can be a tough choice when you are trying to get to work and running late, but it is not so tough when it comes to signing up for health care.

Relax.  You have time. 

Even if you somehow managed to get into the system and sign up for a plan right now, this minute- that plan will not go into effect until January 1, 2014.

But you don’t have to sign  up now.  Your procrastinating neighbor who waits until December 15th this year to sign up is also going to get a policy starting the same day.

All of the health care exchange sites experienced load problems as well as system glitches at launch week.  I wasn’t surprised at the server load issues; in  fact I expected those.  In fact, I would have been stunned and a little disappointed if that hadn’t happened.  Nothing’s sadder than a web site that loads fast because it doesn’t have hardly any visitors.

I do think that that when it comes to the data entry part, some of the glitches are due to design or programming flaws in the system sign-up portals themselves – as well as the simple fact that some systems were launched before they were complete.  Users trying to sign up via the federal site at healthcare.gov were confronted drop down lists to create security questions as part of the process of creating an account, but the fields were unpopulated with nothing to select. So most were stuck — a savvy few figured out that they could merely choose the default “answer1” and move on.  But that shouldn’t have happened: it’s an error that would have been discovered easily by simple testing of the system ahead of launch.

But these problems will be fixed.

And if you wait for another week or so to give the computer tech teams an opportunity to fix the problems, you’ll reap the benefits:  you’ll have a much smoother user experience.   You’ll be able to create an account, enter data, and make  your choices easily, or get help quickly with the online chat features or toll free numbers.

So pick a date in the third or fourth week of October and mark your calendar. That will be the day you will sign up for health care, and no sooner.  I have a feeling that you will be very glad that you did.

(And no, I’m not following my own advice. If I was waiting to sign up, I wouldn’t know how the system works and I couldn’t advise others.  So I’ve got an account that was created rather late at night at http://www.coveredca.com.  I’ve got it, but it wasn’t worth it. They don’t have the healthcare provider lists uploaded yet, so I have no way of figuring out which, if any, plans includes the doctor I want to keep.  Stay tuned)

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