Online Obamacare Exchange: A $634 Million, Glitch-Ridden Privacy Concern
October 10, 2013 by Sam Rolley
To the amusement of conservatives and to the frustration of supporters trying to sign up, Obamacare insurance exchange websites throughout the Nation have been plagued with technical glitches since going online last week.
The sites under the care of Healthcare.gov continually rejects user logins, fails to load drop-down menus and provides an overall unenjoyably glitch-ridden user experience, according to the accounts of many who have attempted to sign up. Obama Administration officials have blamed the problems on overwhelming popularity and, last weekend, ordered major renovations intended to make the sites function properly.
But new reports indicate that popularity has less to do with the glitches than failure on the part of the government.
According to Digital Trends, the site failures are mostly to blame on poorly written computer coding that could not handle traffic once the sites went online. The report also notes that the code was not only poorly written, but that it was also very costly.
Via Digital Trends:
The exact cost to build Healthcare.gov, according to U.S. government records, appears to have been $634,320,919, which we paid to a company you probably never heard of: CGI Federal. The company originally won the contract back in 2011, but at that time, the cost was expected to run “up to” $93.7 million — still a chunk of change, but nothing near where it ended up.
Given the complicated nature of federal contracts, it’s difficult to make a direct comparison between the cost to develop Healthcare.gov and the amount of money spent building private online businesses. But for the sake of putting the monstrous amount of money into perspective, here are a few figures to chew on: Facebook, which received its first investment in June 2004, operated for a full six years before surpassing the $600 million mark in June 2010. Twitter, created in 2006, managed to get by with only $360.17 million in total funding until a $400 million boost in 2011. Instagram ginned up just $57.5 million in funding before Facebook bought it for (a staggering) $1 billion last year. And LinkedIn and Spotify, meanwhile, have only raised, respectively, $200 million and $288 million.
The expensive, glitch-ridden website also comes with serious privacy flaws. Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue recently described the online Obamacare exchanges as an “overly simplistic system without adequate privacy safeguards,” leaving exchange enrollees “open to identity theft, lost periods of health insurance coverage, and exposure of address for victims of domestic abuse and others… the beta version [of the exchanges] jammed through a few months ago will, unless delayed and fixed, inflict on the public the most widespread violation of the Privacy Act in our history.”