Obama dubs Healthcare.gov glitches 'unacceptable'; calls in tech support

Obama dubs Healthcare.gov glitches 'unacceptable'; calls in tech support

Summary: Healthcare.gov hasn't seen the greatest start. Now the Obama administration is bringing in an elite team of technical experts to crush some of the site's biggest bugs.

TOPICS: Cloud, Health
(Image: ZDNet)

The Obama administration said Sunday it has called in technical experts to help squash some of the biggest glitches and snafus experienced by millions of Americans with the new Healthcare.gov website.

Experts will be scrambled in to rewrite parts of the site's code and underlying infrastructure which has dogged the site, created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (dubbed "Obamacare").

The site, which launched on October 1, has been plagued by flaws and defects that have left many unable to access the online health insurance marketplace or subscribe to a medical plan.

In a blog post published Sunday, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) said many had suffered a "frustrating" experience, while others had "received confusing error messages."

"We are committed to doing better," the post read. 

President Obama is expected to speak in the late morning at a White House event to call the site's problems "unacceptable." It comes amid mixed messages from the administration, which has on the most part up until now remained mum on the problems, or what HHS will actively do about it.

The "tech surge," as described by the HHS blog post, will see "some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team" in efforts to improve the site. 

The department said it will prioritize and fix problems based on aggressive monitoring of the site, which has seen 19 million unique visits to the site since it first launched.

"We are also defining new test processes to prevent new issues from cropping up as we improve the overall service and deploying fixes to the site during off-peak hours on a regular basis," the post read.

Though many of the problems have been on the back-end of the site, many on the public site have and continue to experience issues that highlight the state of affairs of the site's infrastructure. Aside from feeding back details of health plans and medical coverage, the site also passes data to and from insurers. 

But in many cases, this data is erroneous and as a result serving incorrect responses to applicants.

Healthcare.gov will close its doors for registration on December 15 for the deadline for 2014 enrollment. Close to half a million Americans have applied for insurance through the federal and state exchanges under the healthcare act. 

(via Reuters)

Topics: Cloud, Health

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Yah...

    A real success story... inspires confidence in massive government spending programs.
    • Same World over

      Here in the UK some of the biggest disasters in IT have been through the Gov.t and public money - and there are others just the same across Europe AFAIK.
      Its just part of the territory - hubris and no ownership.
  • Really?

    The problems are so massive that only a delay to fix them will possibly inspire confidence. Otherwise, one should not trust the site to give the proper information if it gives information at all. Some of the technical issues include needing to clean browser caches which is easy to do. But most users have no idea how to do this or may not have another browser available. The site was never designed for the typical user who knows virtually nothing about the inner workings of computer. They can only turn it on, open programs, and type; anything else no clue.
  • Obama dubs Healthcare.gov glitches 'unacceptable'; calls in tech support

    as he refused to do something reasonable like hold off on requiring people to be signed up when they can't even do that with HIS failed crap idea.
    • That would be acknowledging his buffoonery

      and the fact his detractors were right.
      James M NYC
      • It would also mean delaying the benefits.

        People with pre-existing conditions have been holding out this long for the ability to get life-saving emergency OR life-saving long-term care for those conditions, and you want to deny them the coverage even LONGER? Hoping they will die in the meantime? The only reason the coverage was delayed THIS long was that Republicans did not want ANYONE actually enjoying the benefits before the 2012 election, hoping that would cost him the White House.

        Under the pre-Obamacare status quo, about 45,000 Americans annually (equivalent to 15 terrorist attacks like 9/11 annually) die because of needed medical care (whether one time treatment such as transplants, or chronic disease monitoring such as dialysis or chemotherapy) DENIED DUE TO LACK OF MONEY. Of course, if your ethical system says lack of money equals forfeiting the right to keep living, you are either a Ferengi or a Libertarian/TP extremists.
    • This is by no means an excuse ...

      ... but my understanding is that folks can still use the site to determine what to sign up for, then call in and speak with a CS rep to sign up.

      It's an inconvenient work-around, but a work-around, nonetheless.

      And, obviously, the significant flaws -- especially those that reveal or convey incorrect data -- should not have reached production. But I have no idea what kind of time-table they were under -- I'm guessing the timeline was probably quite unrealistic given the scale and scope of the project. And that's typical for government projects.
  • They only had three years

    They only had three years to get a website up and running. How much time would that take in the real world? Three months?
  • Obama is a freaking genius at making

    it look like he's the victim of things he's actually running.
    • Yup, clearly Obama is resoponsible for

      incompetent govt IT professionals. No really.

      Just another data point of proof that IT as a profession is full of over-paid woeful amateurs.

      Think about that next time you ask for a raise...
      • Like, I said. A genius.

        You would never excuse a CEO or even George W. Bush, but you can't wait to find someone else to blame in this case.
        • Like, I said. A joke

          So here's the thing, little munchkin. You ask the CIO. "Is is ready?". She says, "Yup, sure is". You say "Nope, it's not because in the spare cycles I have from running this mess of a country, I'm also an IT expert. I've read the contracts. I've been across the UAT results. And it sucks. Big time. Oh, and you're fired".

          In your little world anyway.
  • What? Not Bush's Fault?

    After weeks of denials and avoiding the obvious all a sudden he's a genius for calling in the experts. I just wish the media would stop covering for this fool who is out of his league and not make us wait until he's out of office to reveal the real story of his presidency, for the sake of the country.
    James M NYC
    • well,

      by any world-wide measure, Obama has done a small fraction of the damage to America's reputation than what Bush managed.

      And in terms of reputational damage, lets leave the myopic morons of the Tea Party out of this shall we?
      • Ha so true

        Ask anyone in management of a casino about the misery they have every time they introduce new systems for gambling games!
  • No background checks for employees

    who will have access to all your medical and financial records. Big flaw!
    James M NYC
  • Good news if you got booted out

    The NSA will be able to use its keystroke tracking to autocomplete any of the failed submissions.
  • What that says about government IT'ers....

    This means that the government should re-look at who they have actually working for them and who implemented the website (and screw-ups) and fire them. But then, that means that we the taxpayer payed for the work the IT'ers did in the first place and will (again) have to pick up the tab for someone (who maybe knows what they are doing) to rescue the masses.....this won't look good on any resume for any IT'er who worked on the implementation first hand,,,,
  • Government Shutdown

    I'm surprised the shutdown wasn't blamed as the source of the failed launch of the site. It doesn't have to be true of course but when has that ever deterred a politician?
    • It may not have been the cause,

      but it certainly could have slowed down the correction effort.