Visualizing the Obamacare Snafu

IT experts say the online marketplace failed due to flawed website architecture. Here’s a chart that puts that in perspective.

National Journal
Brian Resnick
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Brian Resnick
Oct. 7, 2013, 7:53 a.m.

This is what an on­line health care ex­change looks like:

Func­tions

The fed­er­al health-ex­change mar­ket­place, ar­chi­tec­tur­ally, is a mess. That, at least, is the con­sensus of IT ex­perts ex­plain­ing to re­port­ers why so few people were able to sign up on­line for health in­sur­ance last week.

  • In the Wall Street Journ­al: “Such a hast­ily con­struc­ted web­site may not have been able to with­stand the on­line de­mand last week.”

  • On Re­u­ters: “Five out­side tech­no­logy ex­perts in­ter­viewed by Re­u­ters, however, say they be­lieve flaws in sys­tem ar­chi­tec­ture, not traffic alone, con­trib­uted to the prob­lems.”

  • On Wonkblog: “Most of the prob­lems like these are in the soft­ware. Hard­ware is the easy part. You can add more hard­ware and do it eas­ily. Soft­ware takes more time.”

Health and Hu­man Ser­vices of­fi­cials ad­mit­ted to The Wall Street Journ­al that the web­site has cod­ing is­sues, and that they “can do bet­ter and we are work­ing around the clock to do so.”

Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s Mar­got Sanger-Katz pre­dicted this out­come. In Ju­ly, she wrote about the lo­gist­ic­al dif­fi­culties of open­ing the ex­changes, es­pe­cially in cre­at­ing an in­form­a­tion hub that ties dis­par­ate streams of data from vari­ous gov­ern­ment agen­cies. The chart at the top of the page tries to sim­pli­fy what that looks like.

“In an ideal world,” she re­por­ted, “the ex­change web­sites need to be able to talk to sev­er­al fed­er­al agen­cies — IRS to veri­fy an ap­plic­ant’s in­come and em­ploy­ment status, the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cur­ity to de­term­ine her cit­izen­ship, and the state gov­ern­ment to see if she qual­i­fies for Medi­caid, to name a few — all in real time.”

She con­tin­ued: “It is in­creas­ingly clear that the kind of Amazon.com, one-stop shop­ping that was once de­scribed … will not be avail­able in most parts of the coun­try.”

Well, Amazon it is not. But time might fix the on­line mar­ket­place. Speak­ing to The Switch, an IT ex­pert in­volved with its im­ple­ment­a­tion said the first rocky week may not be in­dic­at­ive of lar­ger Obama­care in­fra­struc­ture prob­lems. But if it is, prob­lems could con­tin­ue to trickle down, for in­stance, when people get the bills for their new in­sur­ance plans.

While the design com­plex­it­ies don’t ab­solve the ad­min­is­tra­tion from blame, they do put the ex­change prob­lem in some per­spect­ive. If and when health­care.gov is up and run­ning smoothly, it will be con­sidered an ac­com­plish­ment of in­form­a­tion tech­no­logy in gov­ern­ment, which tends to lag far be­hind the private sec­tor.

What We're Following See More »
TO BE VOTED ON NEXT MONTH
Pai Officially Announces Intent to Scrap Net Neutrality Rules
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
SAYS HE’S UNAWARE OF ACCUSATIONS
Conyers Denies Settling Harassment Claims
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
SPEAKER SAYS IN LETTER
Mugabe Resigns, Ending Impeachment Debate
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
HAITIANS TO BE MOST AFFECTED
White House to End TPS Program
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Trump administration is ending a humanitarian program that has allowed some 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since an earthquake ravaged their country in 2010, Homeland Security officials said on Monday. Haitians with what is known as Temporary Protected Status will be expected to leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation. ... About 320,000 people now benefit from the Temporary Protected Status program, which was signed into law by President George Bush in 1990."

Source:
MAKES PERMANENT A PREVIOUS INJUNCTION
Federal Judge Blocks Sanctuary Cities Order
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A federal judge on Monday permanently blocked President Donald Trump's executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities. U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick rejected the administration's argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress. The judge had previously made the same arguments in a ruling that put a temporary hold on the executive order."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login