Obamacare Website: HealthCare.gov Problems, Cost, And Performance Explained

The Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov, has been an albatross around the neck of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and government officials have been scrambling to fix the issues.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Obama administration claimed the Obamacare website would be fixed by the end of November although other reports claimed this was unlikely to happen despite getting a tech assist from Verizon. The controversy surrounding the millions of people unable to keep their health care plans also caused President Obama to "fix" the problem by delaying the decision for a year.

Officials are saying that, as of tomorrow, the Obamacare website should be expected to handle around 50,000 people at a time. The goal behind the "tech surge" is to allow around 80 percent of users to successfully navigate HealthCare.gov without issue.

But what other problems remain? Henry Chao is the chief digital architect for the Obamacare website. Recently, he made the surprising confession that 30 percent to 40 percent of the entire Obamacare project was still being built while giving his testimony before a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

"We have yet — we still have to build the financial management aspects of the system, which includes our accounting system and payment system and reconciliation system."
Apparently, the government is still working on "back office systems," including those needed to pay insurance companies that are supposed to provide coverage to millions of people under the Affordable Care Act. Needless to say, lawmakers in the House were fairly upset these crucial parts of Obamacare were "still being developed and tested."

But this type of last minute work -- where hard working programmers probably have Java Monster on tap -- is precisely the type of problem that plagued the Obamacare website as well. In testimony before the House Oversight Committee, both Secretary Sebelius and the contractors have stated that they only had two weeks for system testing – testing of the assembled parts as a whole.

The Obamacare website problems are most likely caused by the design of HealthCare.gov. It 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. The other issue is that many people are choosing to try the Federal Obamacare website instead of using one of the sites for the state exchanges.

Despite using open source software for much of the backbone, early reports claimed the Obamacare website cost over $500 million. The Obama administration hasn't officially stated the exact cost, although some third party organizations conservatively estimate around $70 million. But CNN reports that the Obamacare website's cost has exceeded $174 million so far, including $56 million for technological support. Regardless of the actual amount, the cost estimates continue to rise and the Obamacare marketing campaign is said to exceed $700 million.

What do you think should be done to fix the Obamacare website problems?