Oct 10, 2013

Why has the roll-out of Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) websites been so troubled?

I’ve yet to have success establishing an account and verifiying my identity on the healthcare.gov site, and when I tried today I was still getting all kinds of glitches and errors. I’m not trying to be overly critical; some of the guys I shoot bullseye pistol matches with even make fun of me for being the resident “socialist,” which is funny because I worked on a number of Republican campaigns back in the early 90s. I understand that any new site is going to have growing pains and issues at first, but this site clearly needs more work. Are these issues major problems, or the expected glitches of a new site with lots of traffic?

I suspect the problems will be relatively short-lived. But that doesn't excuse them either. The government seemed to have plenty of time to do this right, but still failed. It doesn't speak well of the ability of bureaucrats to actually get anything done.

It remains to be seen how quickly these issues will be sorted out. Part of it is probably related to the fact that the healthcare.gov site was not originally intended to be the sole online resource for residents of 20+ states until the Supreme Court decision came out that allowed states to opt out of medicaid expansion, which changed the rules of the game and moved the goalposts significantly. The site was also built to a price point following bureaucratic practices and processes, plus it had to be done as cheaply as possible (thing the House was going to approve an adequate development budget?) and it shows. According to Ars, the first page of the registration process has 2099 lines of HTML code, 11 CSS files and 56 JavaScript files. I don’t think this will be an easy fix, but perhaps they can get it clunking along a little smoother in a week or two.

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