Why Obamacare’s Portal Still Needs a Brand Makeover
Policy + Politics

Why Obamacare’s Portal Still Needs a Brand Makeover

REUTERS/Joe Skipper

The public seems to be gradually warming to Obamacare now that at least 15 million people have gained health coverage because of it.

The latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows approval of the law is at an all-time high with 43 percent supporting it and 42 percent opposing it. This is the first time supporters have outweighed opponents.

Related: Obamacare’s Fate Could Rest on States’ Rights

While the healthcare law itself is enjoying a boost in popularity, its federal portal seems to be struggling with a branding crisis. 

A new survey by Forrester Research ranks HealthCare.gov, the federal health insurance exchange portal, dead last among government brands that provide a quality consumer experience.

The poll surveyed 49,000 people who have interacted with at least one of 299 private or federal brands over the past year. However, it’s not clear how many of the respondents have actually had an experience with HealthCare.gov. So, the results don’t necessarily suggest that users are having a poor experience—in fact, few technical glitches have been reported this year, compared with last. 

What the poll’s findings do suggest, however, is that the public’s perception of the website is still crippled by its nightmarish rollout in the fall of 2013 when a plague of technical problems made it extremely difficult for people to sign up for coverage.

Related: Obamacare Sign Ups Lose Momentum in State Exchanges

The survey asked respondents to rank 18 federal brands or programs that they thought delivered the best customer service and quality. HealthCare.gov came in last—with respondents ranking it “very poor” for customer service. Meanwhile the U.S. Postal Service and the National Parks Service tied for the top spot. 

Of course, unlike those two, HealthCare.gov is only two years old and still working through growing pains. 

So far, the federal government has poured at least $2 billion into HealthCare.gov—including building, then repairing the website, as well as paying for an enormous state-by-state outreach effort.

The findings suggest that the administration still has a long way to go to convince the public that HealthCare.gov is no longer a technical nightmare but rather a functioning website that has helped millions of Americans find healthcare coverage. 

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