Obamacare: HealthCare.Gov Website’s Slow Performance, Glitches Explained

Obamacare had a rough start and the HealthCare.gov website is mostly to blame for the slow implementation of the Affordable Care Act. But what is causing the slow performance?

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Obamacare glitches were explained in an interview with Ben Simo, an expert “hacker” cited in front of Congress. Kathleen Sebelius has been attempting to defend Obamacare, but critics have pointed out her answers sometimes defy logic. For example, Sebelius claimed it was necessary for single men to have maternity care as part of their health insurance package.

Some people have been assuming the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) simply didn’t have enough database server mirrors in place to handle the overwhelming load. Various government officials explained away the problems in that manner, essentially blaming Obamacare for being “popular,” but are the HealthCare.gov performance problems due to something deeper?

The performance issues are most likely caused by the design of the Obamacare website. HealthCare.gov requires people to register for an account, confirm email, validate identity, and validate eligibility before they can see insurance plan information, which creates an unnecessary up-front bottleneck. This means all these processes were hitting the server databases as soon as someone attempted to create a HealtherCare.gov user account. Creating that bottleneck up-front puts all users down the same funnel — even those who are only curious and have little intention to buy insurance.

A good design would have separated account creation from user information verification, which could have been handled in a low priority software suite after an account was created. This would have given users a chance to price shop before actually attempting to buy insurance. That way, most of the activity on the Obamacare system wouldn’t have to interact with specific user information and the systems that manage and store it.

There is also a lot speculation over how much of the Obamacare website is original code and how much was cobbled together from open source and enterprise packages. Apparently, multiple contracting companies worked together on the HealthCare.gov project and pasted their efforts together at the last moment, with only weeks of testing. Computer experts have noted responses from servers identifying themselves as Apache Coyote and jBoss, both of which are open source. But there are also Oracle identity management cookies, which are not open source.

But no one knows for certain what is being used on the front end or what’s on the back end of the Obamacare website. So it’s possible they built their own platform instead of going with a Web CMS platform like IBM Websphere or something else. Software licenses like that are typically in the thousands, not tens or hundreds of millions, although it’s possible the government would have special pricing based upon its needs.

Speaking of which, previous reports have claimed the Obamacare website cost over $500 million. But CNN reports that the Obamacare website’s cost has exceeded $174 million so far, including $56 million for technological support. But the cost estimates continue to rise and the Obamacare marketing campaign is said to exceed $700 million.

What do you think about Obamacare and the HealthCare.gov website?