Sunday, November 9, 2014

Test Version of Healthcare.gov Inadvertently Exposes New Website Features Early [Updated]

    As 2015 open enrollment for Obamacare nears, Healthcare.gov has been telling consumers that "plans and estimated prices for 2015 coverage will be available in early November." Although signup is not possible until November 15, the website promises this "window shopping" experience will come sooner:

    However, Jayne O'Donnell of USA Today is reporting that this "window shopping" feature, which some were expecting to debut today, maybe still not be available even by Sunday, less than a week before open enrollment begins:

    However, THE WEEKLY STANDARD has discovered that a test version of Healthcare.gov is exposed online with some of the new "window shopping" pages. We reported in September that akatest.healthcare.gov has been accessible for months even though it is only a test version of the live site. Most web browsers only display the pages in html code, but the Firefox browser actually displays the content not yet ready for primetime on the live site. Here are two examples:

    Clicking on the SEE HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS & PRICES button, however, does not deliver; rather, it takes users to the "Full-time Equivalent (FTE) Employee Calculator".
    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not responded to multiple requests for comment about the exposed test site, despite the fact that such test sites have been an issue since at least December 2013, as we reported at the time.

UPDATE: Shortly after this article was posted, the test site, akatest.healthcare.gov, disappeared. A few archives of the site were captured on the Internet Archive here.  However, HHS has still not responded to emailed requests for comment or explanation.

Note: A version of this post (before the update) first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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