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Obamacare enrollment took people up to 566 times longer than HHS predicted

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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The Obama administration drastically underestimated how long it would take people to enroll for Obamacare on the program’s website, HealthCare.gov.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimated earlier this year that it would only take 28 minutes to complete the lengthy online application. However, recent media reports indicate that it has taken people hours, even days, to enroll in Obamacare.

“It is clear there were many missteps with the rollout of healthcare.gov, but perhaps the first mistake was assuming it would take less than 30 minutes to complete the online application,” said Sam Batkins, director of regulatory policy at the American Action Forum.

An Indianapolis man said he devoted 25 to 30 hours to sign up him and his family for Obamacare — nearly 54 times as long as HHS originally said it would take. The first person to successfully sign up for Obamacare in Delaware spent a whopping 11 days signing up for Obamacare — about 566 times longer than HHS predicted.

One Politix blogger reported it took her 23 days to just create an account on the Obamacare website.

“Last night the magic worked and I found myself through the first hurdle — creating a Healthcare.gov account,” she wrote. “And yes, you read that correctly. Merely creating an account eluded me for 23 days.”

“But that’s only a small step towards buying insurance, and as I found, it’s easy to spend hours typing into boxes on the site while getting no forwarder,” she added.

Some people have become so frustrated with the website, they are relying on insurance brokers to fill out and submit their information for them, reports Fox 10 Arizona. Though even that proves difficult.

“This is like going to a car dealer and spending the first 45 minutes with a credit manager doing an application before ever seeing a car or sticker on the window,” says Alan Leafman, a health insurance broker, told Fox 10. “We’ve gotten exactly one person through the website since October 1.”

One New York resident, who is actually encouraging people to sign up for Obamacare to save money, took days to sign up — finally setting up an account the first Sunday after New York state’s exchange site opened.

“So I logged onto the New York State health insurance exchange website,” he wrote. “For a few days, I couldn’t do anything at all on the website.”

“Then for a day or so I could ‘log-in’ but not complete registration,” he added. “And then for a day, I could answer the questions to complete my registration but not actually complete the process.”

After more than two months of review, HHS predicted that more than 3 million individual responses and people would spend 1.4 million hours to complete the necessary paperwork to enroll.

“In other words, HHS assumed the public would spend just 28 minutes to complete the ‘Online Application,’” Batkins added. “HHS also estimated these burden hours would cost no money.”

The exchange forms total 91 pages, which the Obama administration said should only take 28 minutes to complete and apply for insurance. On top of that, there is an information collection survey which the administration estimated that 6,000 people would spend 167 hours completing — 1.6 minutes each — expressing their satisfaction with the site.

However, initial media reports indicate that people across the country have been frustrated with the federally-run website and have complained about its functionality. The White House has said that it would address the site’s problems and HHS has brought in experts from the private sector and other federal agencies to fix the problems.

“The President will directly address the technical problems with HealthCare.gov — troubles that he and his team find unacceptable,” said a White House official.

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