Privacy concerns emerge for Healthcare.gov

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Senators Seek Answers on Health Marketplace Woes
Senators Seek Answers on Health Marketplace Woes

HealthDay News -- A top Obama administration health official insisted that private information provided on Healthcare.gov during the online application process is safe and secure and that website improvements are progressing.

"I want to assure you that HealthCare.gov can and will be fixed quickly, and we are working literally around the clock to make that happen," Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Tuesday's hearing -- the Medicare chief's second appearance on Capitol Hill since the website rollout -- highlighted privacy and security concerns after reports that one Healthcare.gov user received information from the website intended for another user.

Tavenner said the online application for coverage is "protected by stringent security standards, [and] the technology underlying the application process has been tested and is secure."

Technical difficulties have also been a concern. The website crashed again on Monday, interrupting service for about 90 minutes. The cause of the problem is being investigated, administration officials said. Website traffic was also halted twice last week due to a "partial outage" of service by the company that hosts the HealthCare.gov website and the data services hub.

The Obama administration's goal has been to enroll seven million uninsured Americans by the end of March through the federal and state-run health exchanges. So far, the administration has declined to provide enrollment figures.

A report last week, based on informal memos released by the Republican-chaired House Oversight Committee, indicated that only six people had signed up for coverage on the first day of open enrollment, Oct. 1.

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