Health Reform

Park: Demand overwhelmed healthcare.gov

futuristic touchscreens

The long waits and error messages experienced by users trying to set up accounts and shop for insurance using the HealthCare.Gov site are due -- at least in part -- to flaws in the signup process, which could not accommodate the higher than expected number of visitors, according to U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park.

The system was designed to support 60,000 simultaneous users, but the site has attracted more than 250,000, Park told USA Today. "These bugs were functions of volume. Take away the volume and it works," Park said.

Designers based their estimates for demand on the site for Medicare Part D, which supports 30,000 simultaneous users. Park told the New York Times in a subsequent report that the companies are addressing the error. "The contractors have sent reinforcements. They are working 24/7. We just wish there was more time in a day," Park said.

Wait times to access the HealthCare.Gov site have dropped by 50 percent since Oct. 4, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The department also reported short wait times to reach phone centers for enrollment.

In an Oct. 7 appearance on "The Daily Show," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called the rollout "a little rockier than we would have liked," and said the system was "better today than it was yesterday."

Host Jon Stewart opened his interview with a dig at the online system. "We're going to do a challenge," Stewart said. "I'm going to try and download every movie ever made and you are going to try to sign up for Obamacare -- and we'll see which happens first."

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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