ObamaCare Website Undershot Volume by a Mile

It can accommodate 50K at a time, and that's 'weird,' says former HHS official

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 9, 2013 10:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – One salient fact about why the new federal website for ObamaCare has had so much trouble: It was built to handle about 50,000 visitors at a time, a former Health and Human Services tech official tells the Washington Post. Given the intense interest of the rollout, that's just plain "weird," says David Brailer, who worked at HHS during the last big launch of a federal health care program—the Medicare drug benefit in 2006. That one could accommodate twice as many visitors at once. "The math just doesn't add up."

The story recounts how everyone from health insurers to state officials to Democratic allies warned the administration repeatedly prior to the launch that it wasn't ready to go. “Nothing I told them ever surprised them,” says Democrat Rep. Robert Andrews, who was hearing from insurers over the summer. “The White House has acknowledged all along something this massive was going to have implementation problems.” One bright spot for those seeking insurance under ObamaCare: The state-run exchanges are now running relatively smoothly, reports the New York Times. And the AP has a story in which insurance industry execs say there's plenty of time to fix the glitches on the federal site to make sure people get insured by Jan. 1. (Requiring people to log in before browsing might be one problem to tweak.)

Lillian Ardon, right, a certified application counselor with Harris Health System, helps Vanessa Danielle Cotton, left, with her Affordable Care Act application in Houston.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
File photo of a "please wait" sign on the new website.   (AP Photo/John Hart, Wisconsin State Journal)
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