Consumer Reports, which publishes reviews of consumer products and services, advised its readers to avoid the federal health-care exchange â€œfor at least another month if you can.â€ â€œHopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess theyâ€™ve made,â€ the magazine said, having tested the site themselves over the course of the past three weeks.
Noting that only 271,000 of the 9.47 million people who tried signing up in the first week managed to create an account, Consumer Reports then provided a few tips to those attempting to slog through the application process. From attempting successive logins because â€œerror messages . . . may not always match realityâ€ to checking oneâ€™s inbox frequently because missing an e-mail a user will be timed out of the site and forced to start from square one, none of the suggestions guaranteed success.
The magazine has also released a string of scathing reviews. On October 1, the day the Obamacare exchanges went online, the magazine told people to be patient: â€œDonâ€™t worry if you canâ€™t sign up today or even within the next couple of weeks.â€ A week into enrollment, they urged again to â€œwait a couple weeks and hope that the site irons out its many problemsâ€ because the HealthCare.gov is â€œbarely operational.â€
As the editors continued to review the website over the next few days, they only had one positive statement: â€œOn the plus side,â€ they noted, â€œconsumers coming to HealthCare.gov are no longer stopped cold by an error message or a screen saying theyâ€™ve been put in a waiting line.â€
Now three weeks into the exchanges, having offered reviews and advice, Consumer Reports said that â€œif all [these suggestions] are too much to absorb, follow our previous advice: Stay away from Healthcare.gov,â€ at least for the time being.