HealthCare.gov Developers Knew Site Was Doomed

Full enrollment procedure not tested until last minute

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 22, 2013 7:11 AM CDT | Updated Oct 22, 2013 7:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – The problems plaguing HealthCare.gov were entirely foreseeable to those who built it: Facing high stress and what they called last-minute changes from their bosses, developers worked insane hours and pounded energy drinks for months to put together what the AP calls a "mind-numbingly complex system"—and when they were finished, the integration testing was performed not by outside experts from private software firms, but by government officials. The day before it went online, testers saw it crash under the weight of just a few hundred users, the Washington Post reports.

Insurers who tested the product a month before its release called for a slower, state-by-state rollout due to persistent problems. Even by Sept. 26, no one had tested the full user enrollment process, even though everyone knew Oct. 1 was the drop-dead deadline. "We named it the tyranny of the October 1 date," says one project insider. The site is a "data services hub," or, as the AP explains, "a traffic cop for managing information"—and there's a lot of it. The site links to other government networks ranging from the IRS to the Peace Corps, and the verification of applicant data is complex. Officials don't plan to postpone the individual mandate to get health insurance, however, though Fox notes that Marco Rubio plans to introduce a bill that would delay it until HealthCare.gov is "up and running and effectively working for six months, consecutive." (Worth noting: the process can be done over the phone. The AP has details.)

This photo provided by HHS shows the main landing web page for HealthCare.gov.
This photo provided by HHS shows the main landing web page for HealthCare.gov.   (AP Photo/HHS)
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