Expert: Mass. Health Insurance Website Worse Than HealthCare.gov

Monday, 18 Nov 2013 01:02 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Health Connector — the website portal to Massachusetts' online health-insurance marketplace — works even worse than the federal government's infamous HealthCare.gov site, a software expert reports.

Bill Curtis, chief scientist for CAST Software, was commissioned by the Boston Herald  to critique Massachusetts' healthcare marketplace, and found that the $69 million website is overwhelmed by unnecessarily large files, operates at slower speeds, and has other serious flaws that are preventing users from being able to comply with the state's health-insurance requirement.

"It's even less optimized than the federal website. It was slow. It was clunky," said Curtis, who worked on the project with his own technician.

"At one point, he couldn't get on," Curtis said of his technician. "He got a 'maintenance in progress' [message], and it wasn't clear what was happening."

Curtis looked at work change orders, which were over 100 pages, while his technician examined Health Connector's code.

Among the problems they found: the website uses unnecessarily large high-resolution photos, which slows it down. Its complications limit the number of users that can sign up for insurance and also locks users out.

The site has enrolled less than 1,000 applicants as of last week,

"If you're a professional developer of websites, it's pretty basic," CAST Software's chief scientist said. "You don't see Amazon or Google making those mistakes. They know they have to optimize or it'll just crash."

The Massachusetts website was built by CGI Group, the same developer that built HealthCare.gov. The company did not respond to the Herald's request for comment.

Health Connector spokesman Jason Lefferts said he is confident the website will be fully functional.


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