More than 20,000 Vermonters visited the state's online health insurance marketplace by early evening Wednesday. It's designed to make comparing health plans as simple as possible, but navigating the site has been anything but in its first two days.
"Obviously the speed of the site continues to not be where we want it to be," said Mark Larson, the Vermont health access commissioner.
Users report exhausting wait times and frequent page errors. Of the 20,000+ visitors, 1,230 registered accounts, but only a handful locked into a plan. No one is technically enrolled because the site won't be able to process payments until November.
"As we expected, not many people have been interested on day one to go out and actually make their final selection," Larson said.
Larson says the problems are hiccups and he's thrilled by the numbers of users.
"You're going to have bugs," said Frank Canovatchel, an associate professor of web development at Champlain College.
Canovatchel says it's impossible to diagnose the problem without getting into the guts of the system. But he says system administrators should be able to estimate a fix time with a 10 percent margin of error. Though he thinks a delay may have been smarter than releasing an unfinished product.
"I would always opt for a good quality product before I would say we're just going to put it out there on this date," Canovatchel said.
"We've been taking steps to see if we can isolate the specific problem and make the speed increase and we're going to keep going at it until we can find a fix," Larson said.
Larson described the issue as a communication problem between servers operating the page here in Vermont. Canovatchel says that likely means data isn't taking the most direct path, like driving from Brattleboro to Rutland through Burlington.
Early Tuesday, officials cited high volume as the problem before the server explanation arose at the afternoon press conference later in the day. Experts say that explanation does seem more likely, because while 20,000 visits show high interest, it's unlikely to affect speed.