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'Major Design Flaw' Paralyzed ObamaCare Site: Experts

Feds should let users go window-shopping, tech gurus say
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2013 7:12 PM CDT

(Newser) – Might not be hackers who crippled the ObamaCare website after all. Tech experts are saying that the federal site crippled itself by making users sign in before browsing insurance plans, the AP reports. That demand puts a strain on the site, forcing it to verify identity, residence, income, and more in real time. If people were allowed to shop anonymously, "it would have potentially relieved the traffic on the identity verification part of the site," said an executive at California HealthCare Foundation.

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That foundation helped bankroll a $3 million study that advised the feds to allow for window-shopping, but the advice was ignored—although several state online marketplaces do let users go browsing. A Health and Human Services rep said signing in allows users to see their income-based subsidies while shopping. But one disappointed Illinois shopper saw it differently, saying the government wants to "see who's coming in, how many times they come in and what they buy after they get there." Meanwhile, the Obama administration says it's close to repairing the website after taking it down for repairs this weekend. (Read more ObamaCare stories.)

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