Why was the ObamaCare website designed to serve fewer people than the Medicare Part D site?

posted at 6:01 pm on October 10, 2013 by Allahpundit

Ed and Erika have covered most of the bases on Glitchapalooza today but I want to put this in front of you because, in its own way, it’s the most baffling Healthcare.gov failure yet. Via Peter Suderman of Reason, WaPo buried a fascinating fact about the website’s capacity at the end of a story it published a few days ago:

David Brailer, who worked as HHS’s first national coordinator for health information technology during the launch of the Medicare drug benefit in 2006, said the administration could have anticipated that the opening of the federal exchange would trigger a rush of Americans onto the Web site, either as onlookers or outright buyers.

He pointed out that the exchange was built to accommodate 50,000 to 60,000 visitors at a time — fewer than half as many as the enrollment site for the Medicare drug benefit could handle. The number of older Americans eligible for the drug benefit was far greater than the group of uninsured people who will be allowed to buy insurance through the health exchange, Brailer said, but many elderly patients didn’t have home computers at the time, compared with the near-universal access to the Web that exists across the United States today. For a new program that’s had as much advertising as the Affordable Care Act, building a Web site for just 60,000 people at a time “is weird. The math just doesn’t add up,” he said.

It’s one thing to say the feds badly, badly underestimated how much traffic volume there’d be in the first few weeks. It’s another to point out that they underestimated it despite having a volume benchmark courtesy of another federal health-care program for which there was heavy demand. Any techies out there have an explanation for that beside the obvious one of grotesque incompetence? If you knew that the Medicare Part D site could serve as many as 100-120,000 users at a time, what would be the logic for building Healthcare.gov at half the size? The only explanation that occurs to a layman like me is that capacity on the Medicare site might have ended up being wildly greater than what they ended up needing. E.g., maybe only a thousand seniors at a time nationwide ended up using the site, rendering 99 percent of the capacity redundant. But even if that were true, surely they should have expected a crush of ObamaCare curiosity-seekers to Healthcare.gov during rollout. And even beyond the rollout stage, a health-care product pitched (mainly) at young adults is bound to get many times as much traffic as one pitched to people aged 65 or over. The whole reason they rushed the site out now, when it’s still buggy, is that the White House hoped to maximize the amount of public dependency on it before the GOP could make any inroads on repeal/defund/delay. If anything, that should have meant going overboard on capacity to make sure no one was shut out — and thanks to Medicare Part D, they had a handy justification for boosting it to 100-120,000 at a minimum since that’s what the Bush administration did. Why on earth wouldn’t they do that? Is it significantly more complex to double capacity? Even if they didn’t trust Medicare Part D’s site as a benchmark, couldn’t they at least have talked with Blue Cross, say, to get a sense of what their capacity was like and then scaled up from there accordingly?

Even more baffling is the fact that, because the feds knew the site would be buggy, they also had reason to believe that individual users would be forced to make repeat visits in order to complete the sign-up process. If the site were running smoothly, a user might be done after one try, upon signing up successfully. As it is, the news this week has been nothing but horror stories of people trying every day, for hours on end, to create an account and failing at various stages of the process. That’s another reason to err on the side of more capacity rather than less. Instead, via Jim Geraghty, not only are people forced to try, try again, but some portion of the site’s successful “enrollees” are surely duplicate or triplicate accounts created by frustrated users who couldn’t even tell if they’d successfully registered on their first try. That’s what I mean in saying that the capacity problem is arguably the most mystifying disaster of the Healthcare.gov saga. It’s not an execution flaw, as the coding is; it’s a planning flaw, and a big one, and one that could have been easily avoided. With the legacy of the president’s biggest domestic achievement on the line, you might have thought they would have gotten something as simple as capacity right. But here we are.

Erika posted this the other day but it’s worth a re-watch. Here’s DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz casually noting that, yes, the site was designed to serve 50,000 people at a time. Any problems with that, Debbie?


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Because they knew that nobody would actually.. you know… sign up for it.

faraway on October 10, 2013 at 6:03 PM

Because it was never meant to “work” in the first place?

UnderstandingisPower on October 10, 2013 at 6:04 PM

The ObamaCare website is like the TV show BaitCar.

The 30,000,000 people who are dumb enough to apply, see the premiums are too high, and refuse the coverage, will get IRS bills for thousands of dollars, based on the information they themselves submitted in the application.

faraway on October 10, 2013 at 6:04 PM

… because they knew that actually, you know, nobody would care because it’s freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

erp on October 10, 2013 at 6:07 PM

If you knew that the Medicare Part D site could serve as many as 100-120,000 users at a time, what would be the logic for building Healthcare.gov at half the size?

Because they’re morons?

rbj on October 10, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Here is a thought, perhaps the designers expected the TEA Party to actually defund the monstrosity- so the website would never need to work, but the US Govt check would have cleared!

socalcon on October 10, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Serendipity!

gerrym51 on October 10, 2013 at 6:08 PM

adults in charge.
 
sesquipedalian on January 27, 2011 at 12:33 PM

rogerb on October 10, 2013 at 6:09 PM

and it’s not like they were trying to save tax-payer’s dollars.

jdpaz on October 10, 2013 at 6:10 PM

Two words—SINGLE PAYER

rjoco1 on October 10, 2013 at 6:10 PM

I think an “American Spring” would take of this sit-yee-ay-shun.

Do it Mr. President show us how you really…..want to rule.

PappyD61 on October 10, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Because liberals are really bad at math.

talkingpoints on October 10, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Is it possible they thought that there might be an initial surge of use, which might cause some problems for a few hours, and then average traffic would drop to 50K simultaneous users at any one time?

Unfortunately, the code appears to have been written in a way with a lot of time consuming calls to Javascript apps that, as some have said, created the equivalent of a Denial of Service attack for each user who tried to get on, and those DoS-type behaviors act to make each individual user the equivalent of many, many users.

Stupid.

Reno_Dave on October 10, 2013 at 6:12 PM

because they are lying about this too

gracie on October 10, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Somehow, somewhere, sometime the Democrats are going to hint that it was sabotaged by the Republicans or Bush…

albill on October 10, 2013 at 6:20 PM

let’s see…35 million uninsured divided by 50,000/day processing design…cipherin’ here….carry the naught…700 days??? They said everything would be in place in 6 months yesterday and all was going well

I think the entire democrat party needs to go back and master 7th grade math

DanMan on October 10, 2013 at 6:20 PM

bbbuuut…buutt….Hussein is so tech-savvy and computer literate….everyone said so

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2008/09/obama-slams-mcc.html

burrata on October 10, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Here will be the new leftist media narrative within a few days:

Obama continues his hard work of dramatically cutting the deficit just like he promised. In fact, he was even willing to cut into the server capacity of his most cherished legislative accomplishment, Obamacare. That’s how much he cares about the children, that he would risk under capacity to save the fiscal health of this nation. (Cue G-d Bless America . . .)

SoRight on October 10, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Probably because the sole purpose of Obamacare is to destroy the American/Capitalist way of life. Everything else can fu** itself in the wake of this goal.

The Nerve on October 10, 2013 at 6:21 PM

Because of Obamacare rationing. Death Panels said only 1 in 1000 could get served.

petefrt on October 10, 2013 at 6:22 PM

I track my websites daily. It costs $5.00 month for my service.

I run a small business. Very specialized and very small. Yet I have full control over web hits, my employees web traffic, their email accounts, etc…

JEZUS FAFFING KEERYST! I want to fishslap these people.

patman77 on October 10, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Oh, and because I went from large to small in downsizing, contracting and 1099ing, everyone makes out better.

patman77 on October 10, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Why was the ObamaCare website designed to serve fewer people than the Medicare Part D site?

1. They’re stalling because the entire Obamacare thing is so Fluked up.
2. They’d rather just take the fines than have to put any real effort involving health insurance.
3. They’re incompetent.

Could be some combination of the above.

Dr. ZhivBlago on October 10, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Why was the obamacare website designed to serve fewer people than the Medicare Part D site?

Uh, because obamacare was specifically DESIGNED TO FAIL.

Pork-Chop on October 10, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Fast and Furious, proved to be true.
IRS/Spite House, proved to be true.
Benghazi debacle proved to be true.
Obamacare predicted disaster proved to be true.

At some point the brainless are going to have to wake up..maybe mid term 2014.

hillsoftx on October 10, 2013 at 6:32 PM

In all seriousness, can you imagine having to accept that the smartest historic president ever is only equal to (at best) that dummy Bush?

rogerb on October 10, 2013 at 6:32 PM

Somehow, somewhere, sometime the Democrats are going to hint that it was sabotaged by the Republicans or Bush…

albill on October 10, 2013 at 6:20 PM

Their base was outright blaming the Tea Party on Day 1.

Sockpuppet Politic on October 10, 2013 at 6:33 PM

becuase the starter house has to be crap so that demand for the mansion (single payor) is greater faster.

At some point the brainless are going to have to wake up..maybe mid term 2014.

hillsoftx on October 10, 2013 at 6:32 PM

if they werent awake in Nov 2012 after everything that occured 09-12, what gives you any hope?

t8stlikchkn on October 10, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Any techies out there have an explanation for that beside the obvious one of grotesque incompetence?

Barky has the mathematical sophistication of a slow 8th grader. He doesn’t comprehend any numbers greater than 20 so, to him, 5,000 … 50,000 … 500,000 … 5,000,000 … it’s all the same. Besides, the CACA act needed the money to run advertisements and pay off people left and right, not to build anything that might actually work.

I have to say, though, that Barky and his gang were closer with the CACA website than Barky was with reporting tornado deaths. There, he claimed that 10,000 had been killed when the real number was 12. Again, to Barky, 100 … 10,000 … 2.34 million … it’s all the same.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on October 10, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Why was the ObamaCare website designed to serve fewer people than the Medicare Part D site?

So the contractors that designed the jiziaCare website can get MORE MONEY , this time for fixing the problem .
BTW, WHO are the geniuses who designed this POS website and how are they related to Hussein or his bundlers or overseas jihad?

burrata on October 10, 2013 at 6:38 PM

Classic comment over at a news site from someone expecting their free insurance and then website not working:

She was recently diagnosed with congestive heart failure and also suffers from COPD. She needs to have a test done but cannot afford the $700 payment required.

They really think between premium, even with subsidy, then deductible atop it, they are going to get this procedure for less than 700 out of pocket? Clueless.

hillsoftx on October 10, 2013 at 6:39 PM

He pointed out that the exchange was built to accommodate 50,000 to 60,000 visitors at a time — fewer than half as many as the enrollment site for the Medicare drug benefit could handle. The number of older Americans eligible for the drug benefit was far greater than the group of uninsured people who will be allowed to buy insurance through the health exchange, Brailer said,

Now let me get this straight.

1. The law requires that anyone uninsured pay a tax fine tax- or something. Through the IRS attaching property, etc., if it is not paid within a certain time limit.

2. But the system was set up to allow only a limited number of those “eligible” to set up insurance plans. While gathering data on basically anyone who logged on to the site.

To me, this translates to the whole idea being to levy fines on people found to be in violation of a law the system set up to enforce said law gives them no opportunity to come into adherence with. In effect, they are found guilty of a crime, and sentence imposed, without benefit of a trial or other legal proceeding.

Hello? Has anyone bothered to read the following Amendments?

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

It seems to me that you could build a prima facie case that the ACA, as written and enforced, is unconstitutional. Especially since its main feature has been defined as a tax by the Supreme Court, but is being administered as a fine for de facto criminality without benefit of trial or opportunity for legal redress.

There can’t have been many legal experts involved in writing this law. Which leads to the question of exactly how many Democrats in Congress and the White House who allegedly have law degrees actually do, and of those who do, how many of them obtained them under false pretenses.

Constitutional Law 101 should have taught them not to do something this stupid. And not to do it this stupidly.

clear ether

eon

eon on October 10, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Why was the ObamaCare website designed to serve fewer people than the Medicare Part D site?

Lowest Bidder?

socalcon on October 10, 2013 at 6:42 PM

who knows… maybe the feds are thinking that the more people try Obamacare’s website, the more that they’ll like it???/

ted c on October 10, 2013 at 6:44 PM

I want to fishslap these people.

patman77 on October 10, 2013 at 6:24 PM

hm, is that a polite way of saying b*tchslap?

I kinda like it.

may use it.

socalcon on October 10, 2013 at 6:46 PM

Why was the ObamaCare website designed to serve fewer people than the Medicare Part D site?

Single Payer Is The Goal.

Bmore on October 10, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Because it was never meant to “work” in the first place?

UnderstandingisPower on October 10, 2013 at 6:04 PM

The fact that “conservative” news outlets like Hot Air are still playing dumb that this was designed to fail is just laughable.

Why did rodeo clown Glenn Beck understand this like 3 years ago?

tetriskid on October 10, 2013 at 6:55 PM

It’s possible that the Obamacare roll-out has been so disastrous in part because it was deliberately hacked.

Here’s Lame Cherry’s(Best Damn Blog on the Internet) thoughts on the matter:

http://lamecherry.blogspot.com/2013/10/fuxnet.html

She has it that there is a war going on at the highest levels of government between the Obamaites and the old-school patriotic Bill Casey types that began with the multiple Watergate-level scandals that have rocked the White House over the past year, culminating with the Snowden operation and is continuing on with anti-Obamacare sabotage.

There does seem to be something to it. What with the Million Biker rally in DC this past 9/11 and the planned Million Trucker event, we’re seeing real large-scale organizing against Obama that hasn’t been evident since the Tea Party rallies of 2010.

It does seem that something big is going on behind the scenes lately.

sartana on October 10, 2013 at 7:05 PM

It was supposed to be a massive data gathering site… and then fail to deliver proper healthcare to pave the way for single payer.

Instead it was designed to fail before it could succeed so it could fail.

Got it?

ajacksonian on October 10, 2013 at 7:13 PM

Simple – they were counting on a certain percentage of people giving up and paying the ta…er…fine.

Steve Eggleston on October 10, 2013 at 7:15 PM

I want to fishslap these people.

patman77 on October 10, 2013 at 6:24 PM

hm, is that a polite way of saying b*tchslap?

I kinda like it.

may use it.

socalcon on October 10, 2013 at 6:46 PM

Actually, it’s this;

The Fish-Slapping Dance

cheers

eon

eon on October 10, 2013 at 7:17 PM

I think Cornyn is getting an early start on his run for Senate in Texas. I just heard his first ad on the radio claiming to be the Republican conservative. Oh, please, Cornyn, you are Not a conservative, but you are a progressive weasel. My fellow Texans here at hotair, we must rid ourselves and the rest of American of this backstabbing and fake conservative. I did hear that he blames Freedom Works and the Tea Party for the evilness that has infiltrated the Republican Party. In fact, he accused these groups which support the very Honorable Ted Cruz of being “violent, so to speak, against Repubilcans ” like himself. Grow up, Cornyn! I plan to donate to Freedom Works for the first time in my life, and I will make my donation in honor of John Cornyn!

mobydutch on October 10, 2013 at 7:34 PM

You don’t understand the mindset, Allah. A bureaucrat would rather fail than ask for advice from another bureaucrat. It’s a loss of face and gives the other guy something over you. It’s personal politics.

PattyJ on October 10, 2013 at 7:34 PM

President Bully Obama and now Senator Bully Cornyn.

mobydutch on October 10, 2013 at 7:37 PM

If anything, that should have meant going overboard on capacity to make sure no one was shut out — and thanks to Medicare Part D, they had a handy justification for boosting it to 100-120,000 at a minimum since that’s what the Bush administration did.

Here’s DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz casually noting that, yes, the site was designed to serve 50,000 people at a time. Any problems with that, Debbie?

So the Bush Administration was twice as good at signing people up for health insurance as the Obysmal Administration (and Bush didn’t impose any penalties/fines/taxes on people who didn’t).

But since Obama, Democrats, and lefties blame Bush for all the evils of the world, they will say that the Obamacare signup system is only half as bad as Bush’s was.

This is still Bush’s fault: he appointed John Roberts who re-wrote the Constitution to call a penalty a tax and made the mandate legal.

Steve Z on October 10, 2013 at 7:38 PM

Chief Traitor John Benedict Roberts must be proud!

RJL on October 10, 2013 at 7:39 PM

Why? Because ObamaCare was DESIGNED to fail. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

GarandFan on October 10, 2013 at 7:55 PM

bbbuuut…buutt….Hussein is so tech-savvy and computer literate….everyone said so

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2008/09/obama-slams-mcc.html

burrata on October 10, 2013 at 6:21 PM

The REB once said that he is better at ___ than any employee he has hired to do ___, so I’m surprised he hasn’t rolled up his sleeves and jumped into writing code for the website.

slickwillie2001 on October 10, 2013 at 8:08 PM

The government obamacare site was designed to process 50,000 applicants a day. That does sound like a lot. However, since libruls don’t do math, I’ll do it for them. At that rate it will take over seventeen years to process every American, not including those born during that seventeen year period. You dumb $hits voted for him. Live with it!

Old Country Boy on October 10, 2013 at 8:12 PM

I don’t know the max number on the FAFSA website, but because of college deadlines, everyone has to use it at once. They do post times when use is heavy for you to avoid. They run FAFSA online simply, and simplicity has increased over time, why wouldn’t they imitate that page for Obama Care?

Fleuries on October 10, 2013 at 8:16 PM

Obama’s biggest donors were the recipients of over $600M in contracts. Nobody ever said competency was part of the deal. It’s all about the Bundlers.

FUBO

Key West Reader on October 10, 2013 at 8:36 PM

I’m calling BS on this excuse. I’ve been there. I know how this works.

Whenever a big software system roll out falls flat on its face the high level people managing the project, like Duchess Sebelius and the two or three levels below her, who tried to do too much too fast with too few people start looking for some excuse than their own incompetence. No one will ever hear about how they were warned by those nerdy technical types.

Unless the environment was completely hostile to any kind of constructive criticism about schedules, staffing, and specification explosion there were warnings given. But it would not surprise me if the environment was that hostile considering the arrogance of the Community-Organizer-in-Chief.

The excuse they are using to cover management incompetence is — See, it really would work if there weren’t so many more people interested than we anticipated. This just goes to show how hugely popular Obamacare is. It’s even more popular than we expected.

And these are the people who think they know best how to centrally plan and manage the entire health care industry, about six of the US economy.

I bet the US health care industry is bigger than the biggest GDP the old Soviet Union ever had, adjusted for inflation. The Soviet commissars couldn’t centrally plan and run an economy smaller than the US health care industry. But our all knowing, all wise, expert Marxist socialist economic engineers, Comrade O, the community organizer, and Sebelius think they can.

farsighted on October 10, 2013 at 8:41 PM

…about a sixth of the US economy.

farsighted on October 10, 2013 at 8:44 PM

“The ObamaCare website is like the TV show BaitCar.

The 30,000,000 people who are dumb enough to apply, see the premiums are too high, and refuse the coverage, will get IRS bills for thousands of dollars, based on the information they themselves submitted in the application.

faraway on October 10, 2013 at 6:04 PM”

LOL! Suckers!
Oh! Well…
They voted for it. Let them enjoy the glorious
benefits of free health care, free phones, and
free tax bills from the IRS.

shorebird on October 11, 2013 at 12:04 AM

As much as I can’t stand mayonnaise hair, America’s most lifelike talking-points robot™ does have an incredible talent for staying on message: Because Republicans!

pain train on October 11, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Seems likely to me that… in the beginning,
Someone asked, “how many people will be using this [Federal] site on launch”?
Someone else probably said, “I dunno, maybe 20,000″? (nice round number)
Someone says, “okay” then tells the tech staff to plan on 20,000 users a day.
Techs go, “20,000 a day, you sure”?
Someone reconsiders, “you’re right, make that 50,000 a day” (should be safe, factor of safety of 2+)
Techs go, “oookkaaay, if you say so”.

Don’t forget that it was probably an assumption that there would be 50 State sites so 50,000 x 50 = 250,000 which should be plenty of capacity… If the States don’t have sufficient capacity on their individual sites that is their problem.

When States opted out, nobody revisited the initial assumptions and just kept on driving down the road — to the extent that there was any consideration about capacity.

/shrug

Russ808 on October 11, 2013 at 4:02 PM