KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Finger Pointing Surrounds Health Care Website Woes

News outlets examine some of the technology issues, as well as political dynamics, that contributed to the launch difficulties.

NPR: How Politics Set The Stage For The Obamacare Website Meltdown
Since the Affordable Care Act's health care exchanges launched to a long series of error messages Oct. 1, most of the 'what went wrong' fingers have been pointing at software developers. But some say there's more to it than that – that politics has played a role as well (Rovner, 10/21).

The Washington Post: Health Insurance Exchange Launched Despite Signs Of Serious Problems
Days before the launch of President Obama’s online health insurance marketplace, government officials and contractors tested a key part of the Web site to see whether it could handle tens of thousands of consumers at the same time. It crashed after a simulation in which just a few hundred people tried to log on simultaneously. Despite the failed test, federal health officials plowed ahead (Sun and Wilson, 10/21).

The Associated Press: Insiders Who Worked On US Health Website Describe High Stress, Complaints About Major Problems
Crammed into conference rooms with pizza for dinner, some programmers building the Obama administration's showcase health insurance website were growing increasingly stressed. Some worked past 10 p.m., energy drinks in hand. Others rewrote computer code over and over to meet what they considered last-minute requests for changes from the government or other contractors. As questions mount over the website's failure, insider interviews and a review of technical specifications by The Associated Press found a mind-numbingly complex system put together by harried programmers who pushed out a final product that congressional investigators said was tested by the government and not private developers with more expertise (Gillum and Pace, 10/22).

USA Today: Geographic Issues Plague Federal Health Site
The federal government's new Web portal for health insurance lags the rest of the health care industry in performance, and the problems could have been prevented with adequate pre-testing, according to a new analysis by Compuware APM, which monitors and manages the performance of websites and other Internet-based assets (O'Donnell, 10/21).

The New York Times: Awareness Grows Of Online Insurance Exchanges, And Their Problems, Survey Finds
Public awareness of the new health insurance exchanges has risen substantially in the weeks since they opened, but only a small percentage of consumers have visited the sites. Most of those already have insurance and are simply trying to learn more about the program, according to a survey released on Monday by the Pew Research Center (Bornemeier, 10/21).

Politico: Even Obamacare Successes Have Hit Some Roadblocks
Most of the people representing Obamacare success stories who flanked President Barack Obama during his Monday Rose Garden speech haven't gotten past the glitches. They're still exploring their options (Haberkorn, 10/22).

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