U.S. plans 'tech surge' to fix balky health exchanges

U.S. plans 'tech surge' to fix balky health exchanges

Summary: The web-based, federally-run insurance exchanges went online on October 1, but they have been beset with problems.


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said this weekend that it will solicit outside assistance to fix some of the technical problems that have affected the rollout of the federally-run insurance exchanges that came online on October 1.

The exchanges are core to the Affordable Care Act—colloquially, "Obamacare." 

"The experience on HealthCare.gov has been frustrating for many Americans," the department wrote in a blog post on its website. "Some have had trouble creating accounts and logging in to the site, while others have received confusing error messages, or had to wait for slow page loads or forms that failed to respond in a timely fashion. The initial consumer experience of HealthCare.gov has not lived up to the expectations of the American people. We are committed to doing better."

The department characterized the initiative to fix the exchanges as a "tech surge," referencing the rapid increase of U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan in 2009.

"Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve HealthCare.gov," it wrote. "We're also putting in place tools and processes to aggressively monitor and identify parts of HealthCare.gov where individuals are encountering errors or having difficulty using the site, so we can prioritize and fix them. 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."

Topics: Health, Government US

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • I don't normally throw stones

    But this has got to be the biggest cluster **** in IT history.
    • Follow the Money

      This is what happens when ObamaCare contracts are give out to political buddies and not put out for open bidding as mandated by law. Why isn't the just department investigating the company that failed to provide the product for which they got paid really big bucks? Why isn't the justice departing suing this company to get the tax payers money back? Why isn't someone going to jail for giving out this contract to their crony friends? Oh, i forgot... we live under a King a that rules by executive order and can do no wrong.... Sorry my bad.
      • Injustice Department

        The Justice department has no jurisdiction, this was a Canadian company. They were chosen to bolster the US economy?

        • Yes, DOJ can sue any company who collects money from the US government

      • re: Oh, i forgot... we live under a King a that rules by executive order

        Yawn. More right wing radio drivel.

        Presidents with more executive orders per annum than Obama:

        Truman, Ford, Carter, Kennedy, Johnson, Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, FDR, Clinton, G.H.W. Bush

        none none
        • Executive orders is not where Obama has been dictatorial;

          he's been creating huge amounts of power through the many thousands of regulations, which are more than any president in the past.

          Also, the number of edicts or executive orders, is not what counts when it comes to the grab of power; it's the type of power grab that counts; in that sense, Obama has been more dictatorial than any president in history. Bypassing congressional legislation through executive orders, is a grab of power, and that's just ONE way that Obama has proven to be more "king-like".
          • re: Executive orders is not where Obama has been dictatorial;

            > he's been creating huge amounts of power
            > through the many thousands of regulations,
            > which are more than any president in the past.

            Sources, please?
            none none
          • Look it up yourself, numbnuts...

            It's very common knowledge, and if you try, even through the internet, you should be successful at finding out the truth.
          • Adornoe never cites sources

            He claims he wants us to "do our own research", but I suspect the real reason is because he doesn't really know where it comes from, but is simply repeating what others have said.
            John L. Ries
          • none none: Here's a one year old report which supports my assertions...

            Under Obama, 11,327 Pages of Federal Regulations Added


            And that's one year ago, which means that by now, the number is much higher.

            Also, nobody claimed that under Bush, it was okay to bypass laws passed by congress. You're the one making the claim that it was supported by republicans. Skipping around the rules and laws, is really unlawful, no matter who does it. The bigger problem is that, under Obama, there have been a much bigger number of regulations and executive orders and violations of the law. In fact, Obama is violating his own laws for political gain, as witnessed by the number of companies and groups that he has exempted from Obamacare; heck, he's even made congress and staff members exempt. That's pure politics.

            But, go ahead, continue with your head buried deep in the ground.
          • I do seem to recall...

            ...that Mr. Bush claimed the privilege of ignoring laws (or provisions thereof) that he believed to be unconstitutional, which is not quite the same thing as ignoring any laws he didn't like.

            Andrew Johnson, on the other hand, carried out Reconstruction laws passed by Congress over his veto, even though he believed them to be of dubious constitutionality.

            I don't care much for signing statements myself. If the president thinks part of an act of Congress presented to him is unconstitutional, I think he's duty bound to veto it; he can explain which parts of a bill he objects to and why in his veto message.
            John L. Ries
          • That's better

            Clearly lots of regs have piled up since 1975 when Gerald R. Ford was president. Do you know where we can find statistics on how many regs were added during administrations of Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush?
            John L. Ries
          • The problem with not citing sources...

            ...is that it makes it a lot harder to determine where particular factoids came from, what they really mean, how reliable they are, and what the context is. And people have been throwing around numbers of dubious reliability (often not even knowing their origins) since long before Mark Twain made his famous crack (quoting Benjamin Disraeli) about the three kinds of lies.

            And lots of people have the bad habit of automatically believing anything they hear or read that supports what they already believe without actually checking it out (it's called "confirmation bias").
            John L. Ries
          • And speaking of power grabs

            of an unconstitutional sort, why were conservatives defending Bush's signing statements wherein he declared the right not to "faithfully execute" (Constitution, Article II, section 3) laws passed by Congress? Why was it OK during Bush's term but not once he left office?

            none none
          • Page 19 is particularily interesting.

            This document neeeds to OCRed by someone with the software and made searchable for maximum value. Note that the document also should to the current president's picking and choosing of which laws to enforce or ignore.
  • Gotta Agree

    Been trying for 2 weeks now to "register".

    AT least they have the rates and plans now published without having to register.

    Since I admin a LARGE web system - all I can do is GROAN at healthcare.gov ...
  • But is a surge really what is needed?

    Or do the existing developers simply need to work through and fix the bugs? It's a truism that throwing more programmers at a problem will often slow things down, rather than speeding things up.
    John L. Ries
    • But is a surge really what is needed?

      Anyone knows you have to print out and weigh the daily production of the programers to ensure they are earning their keep.
    • Surge Dollars

      @John L. Ries. You assume that the US Fed Gov't acts like a private company that risks its own capital to deliver a new product, nothing could be farther from the truth. The Gov't response to any failure is to throw more money (which they don't have) at the problem because they don't have any idea what else to do. They live in a world where your worth is determined by how big their budget is, not how much they have accomplished with the budget; and a Surge is a great way to increase the budget.
      Jeff Richardson
      • But I...

        ...was questioning whether a surge was really necessary or desirable (and citizens should ask that question). Aside from that, I wasn't making any assumptions.
        John L. Ries