Obamacare Site Crashing Is Caused by Masking Costs, Say Experts

Image: Obamacare Site Crashing Is Caused by Masking Costs, Say Experts

Wednesday, 16 Oct 2013 07:08 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Obamacare's continually crashing site stems from the Department of Health and Human Services not wanting applicants to see the program's costs during their online introduction to it, according to "a growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government," Forbes Magazine writes.

Since its launch Oct. 1, the Obamacare website has been plagued by glitches, which the administration has consistently attributed to system overloads stemming from the amount of traffic to the site due to the public's interest in signing up for the program.

That might not be the case however, according to Forbes Magazine, which reported that the site's lack of functionality is deliberate on the part of HHS and a product of the website's overall design.

Editor's Note: ObamaCare Is Here. Are You Prepared?

When a prospective applicant signs on, the person is asked to create an account and in the process provide personal information from which the government determines whether or not you are eligible for subsidies.

Before applicants are able to shop for a plan that fits their needs, the site must first calculate what subsidies they qualify for.

The reason, Forbes noted, is so that applicants are not deterred from signing up by the initial sticker price of the healthcare plan they choose without first being aware of the subsidy they are eligible for. The result is a huge traffic bottleneck that results in the site's continual crashing.

According to Wall Street Journal reporters Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky, "Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering. But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said."

The reason for the deal according to The Journal: "An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies."

The HHS' decision to require the applicant to create an account before they were able to shop for a plan was a shock to Jay Angoff, a former federal official at the agency that oversees the exchange.

"People should be able to get [insurance] quotes" without first having to wade through technical hurdles initially, Angoff told The Journal.

"If you put a critical pathway at the front of the experience, you're going to logjam everything," Patrick Byrne, chief executive of Overstock.com, told The Journal.

Refusing to answer certain questions posed by The Journal, HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said last Wednesday that the department's IT experts are working around the clock to improve the site's overall performance, adding "We have a plan in place and are making progress."

Editor's Note: Do You Support Obamacare? Vote in Urgent National Poll

Approximately 125,000 of the more than two million users, or just over six percent, of those who visited the Obamacare website as of Sunday, were able to complete the account creation process, according to the Internet analytics company comScore, The Journal reported.

The Obamacare website reportedly cost the government $634 million to construct.

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