Did Shutdown Overshadow Failures in Obamacare Website?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 5 2013 5:57 PM

Did Shutdown Overshadow Failures in Obamacare Website?


If the shutdown hadn’t happened, would we be talking about what an embarrassing failure the insurance exchanges website created under the health care law was for the White House? Four days after the exchanges launched, many people were still unable to get access. Since Tuesday, a total of 8.6 million people have visited the Obamacare website, points out the New York Times. And it’s this number that the administration likes to roll out to explain away the failures, saying interest far exceeded expectations, an argument President Obama himself used during a recent Associated Press interview.

That explanation may not be entirely accurate though. Reuters talks to five technology experts who insist that the flaws in the Obamacare website have as much to do with architecture as traffic. In other words, the administration seems to have messed up the critical rollout of one of the most pivotal portions of President Obama’s signature domestic legislation. "Adding capacity sounds great until you realize that if you didn't design it right that won't help," said one expert. "The architecture of the software may limit how much you can add on to it. I suspect they'll have to reconfigure a lot of it."


A section of the website will be offline for several hours over the weekend to allow an upgrade of the capabilities, which experts see as a sign that it isn’t just a question of adding more servers. "It's a bug in the system, a coding problem," another expert said.

Meanwhile though, Obama is urging Americans to have patience and not give up on signing up. “Folks are working around the clock and have been systematically reducing the wait times,” Obama told the Associated Press.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Crowds March in 160 Countries to Demand Action on Climate Change


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Americans' Inexplicable Aversion to the 1990s
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.