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October 07, 2013

"Works As Designed"

Thank Gaia the Smart People are finally running things:

Information technology experts who examined the healthcare.gov website at the request of The Wall Street Journal said the site appeared to be built on a sloppy software foundation. Such a hastily constructed website may not have been able to withstand the online demand last week, they said.

Engineers at Web-hosting company Media Temple Inc. found a glut of stray software code that served no purpose they could identify. They also said basic Web-efficiency techniques weren't used, such as saving parts of the website that change infrequently so they can be loaded more quickly. Those factors clog the website's plumbing, Media Temple said.

The identity-checking foul-ups are also triggering problems for state-run exchanges, which rely on the federal system.

...Stephen Push, a 52-year-old early retiree living in McLean, Va., said he tried to log in to the website a dozen times last week, and was thwarted by website errors each time. On Friday, he called a hotline set up by the administration to help people enroll, but the customer-service representative was also unable to access the online marketplace.

On Sunday, Mr. Push said, he was able complete an application to begin shopping for insurance by telephone. But he said he was told he would have to wait two more days to log in and begin shopping for coverage, a delay the customer service representative attributed to the identity-checking system.

"After what I've been through, I'm a little suspicious," Mr. Push said, adding that he hoped to see premiums lower than what he pays now.

Separately, a system that determines whether people are eligible for federal subsidies to buy insurance, or Medicaid, a state-run program for low-income people, continued to make some inaccurate determinations, despite improvements, people familiar with the matter said. By late last week, officials worried they may have to notify some applicants that they weren't eligible for programs they enrolled in, one person said.

The website and enrollment problems don't "matter so much in October, but for the actual enrollment campaign, this all needs to get fixed by November or they won't be able to process the volume they're going to get," said Jon Kingsdale, an exchange expert who helped set up a similar marketplace in Massachusetts in 2005 and who now works as a consultant for several state-run exchanges.

And then there's this, via Texan99:

One possible cause of the problems is that hitting "apply" on HealthCare.gov causes 92 separate files, plug-ins and other mammoth swarms of data to stream between the user's computer and the servers powering the government website, said Matthew Hancock, an independent expert in website design. He was able to track the files being requested through a feature in the Firefox browser.

Of the 92 he found, 56 were JavaScript files, including plug-ins that make it easier for code to work on multiple browsers (such as Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer and Google Inc's Chrome) and let users upload files to HealthCare.gov.

It is not clear why the upload function was included.

"They set up the website in such a way that too many requests to the server arrived at the same time," Hancock said.

He said because so much traffic was going back and forth between the users' computers and the server hosting the government website, it was as if the system was attacking itself.

There's a joke in there somewhere, we suspect.

Posted by Cassandra at October 7, 2013 06:25 AM

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The website is slightly more "up" today than last week. At least, someone answered on "Live Chat" this time. I asked my usual question, which is "How can I find out whether the new Obamacare regs will force my insurance company to stop offering the low-premium, high-deductible policy I prefer--thus throwing me on the Marketplace exchanges, which do not offer such an option (probably at all, but certainly not for people who qualify neither by being under 30 nor by living below the poverty level)?" The answer: "We have no idea. You'll have to ask your state department of insurance what kind of coverage will be permitted by our benevolent federal overlords in the future."

Upon contacting my state department of insurance, I reached a very helpful worker who told me they have been trying to find out the answer to my question, but the feds are unwilling to cough it up. (What's the rush, anyway? It's only been three years.)

As for my other usual question, which is whether I'll be hit with a fine/penalty/tax if I have insurance of the type that Kathleen Sibelius doesn't personally care for, the state official told me they've been trying to find that out, too, but no one knows. One possibility is that, until they actual kill my coverage, it will count as "coverage" for individual mandate purposes. Another is that continuing my existing coverage will expose me to a fine even before it's actually killed.

My "Live Chat" contact, "Pebbles," hung up on me after I expressed gratitude to Sen. Cruz for trying to protect me from her employer. Speaking of which, check out Maureen Dowd's spectacularly unhinged OpEd piece in the NYT about what D.C. will look like in 2084 as a result of Cruz's evil plan. Suddenly Cruz's name is on everyone's lips.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 7, 2013 11:35 AM

"Works As Designed"

Pretty much sums up everything coming out of the liar's lips for the last 5 1/2 years: "Shovel-ready jobs", "Cash for Clunkers", DoE loans to companies already insolvent and in bankruptcy proceedings, "If you like your insurance, you can keep it!", ad infinitum ad nauseum.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 7, 2013 04:23 PM

I find your lack of faith in my farce disturbing.

Posted by: Darth Obama, Lord of the S*** at October 7, 2013 10:14 PM

Gov't does virtually nothing efficiently, though it's obviously necessary for certain specific needs:
- creating new laws
- establishment/maintenance of currency (I disagree w/ those that suggest this should be a private function; while possible the transaction cost is too high)
- Defense (and military action more broadly)
- Police protection & Criminal Justice System (civil / tort law is *much* better administered privately)
- administration of some natural monopolies (highways, railways, electrical distribution)
- (though it hurts to write it) (minimal) regulation of some markets (think original FDA)

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at October 7, 2013 11:14 PM

The NAVFAC portal, MAXIMO, Total Workforce Management - (TWMS), MyBiz, EBIS, Business Management System - (BMS), all branches of NKOs. Any and everything government related that has online access is a navigational nightmare.
I needed to download the EM-385-1-1 so I could re-take the certification test. Although I could easily find and download the manual, and take the test, I couldn't document it in my personal record because the necessary website (TWMS/EBIS) Has been offline for a month due to server problems.
NSA's brand spanking new archive facility has a catastrophic arc-flash problem with their data archives and servers. It hasn't even been officially stood up.

Good, Fast and Cheap...pick only two.

If it's good and cheap, it will not be fast.

If it's good and fast, it will not be cheap.

If it's fast and cheap, it will not be good.

I think ObamaCare picked the 3rd option.

Posted by: Joatmoaf at October 8, 2013 12:00 PM

I don't think OblahblahCare gave a flying frack about any of those options, quite frankly.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 8, 2013 12:43 PM

"I don't think OblahblahCare gave a flying frack about any of those options, quite frankly."

Admiral Adama??

Posted by: Jonah Vark at October 8, 2013 01:24 PM

I really did like the original Battlestar. Lorne Greene was a helluva actor. Although, methinks you are referring to the more recent version which was too different from the original for me to watch.
Course, as an original Trek fan, I find the newer versions of that storyline challenging to accomodate with what I know the original storyline to be.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 8, 2013 07:18 PM