HealthCare.gov debacle a symptom of poor federal health IT processes

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Software developers have concluded the requirement that users sign up at HealthCare.gov before looking at information on health insurance "choked" the website, which already was hobbled by limited server capacity, the Washington Post reported.

They also said the site freezes for users if a step in the sign-up process isn't completed right away, according to the Post article.

The government has blamed ongoing problems with the site on higher-than-expected usage, the newspaper reported, with more than 8 million people trying to log on in the first three days. But IT experts disagree with that assessment.

"The episode is all too typical of how government creates IT services," Tom Lee, director of Sunlight Labs, the research arm of the Sunlight Foundation transparency advocacy group, told the Post. "The procurement process tends to select for firms that are good at navigating the procurement process, not providing good IT services for the dollar."

State-run health insurance exchanges also are experiencing technical glitches. The glitches even forced the Washington, D.C., exchange to delay two functions of the website: calculating Medicaid eligibility and calculating federal subsidies to help pay insurance premiums.

Over the weekend digital experts at the Post identified five technical problems with HealthCare.gov: No explanation of why users should enroll in the insurance exchange; confusing prompts; a useless sitemap; forms that take too long to load; and inadequate explanations of technical problems.

For more information:
- read the Post article

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