No QA testing for Obamacare website – roll it out no matter what

In the Fortune 50 world, we called it quality assurance (QA) testing. Either HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius completely ignored all standards for QA testing when it comes to a roll out of a new online application, or she knew it was screwed up and let it launch anyway.

This was all perfectly predictable. The federal government seems to have spent a half-billion dollars on a website that doesn’t work well at all. These are not just minor glitches or slow transaction times due to high volume, these are seriously bad issues with everything from convoluted JavaScript files, to CSS errors, to database connection problems, to online forms sending the wrong information to health insurance companies.

Emerging errors include duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children, missing data fields and suspect eligibility determinations, say executives at more than a dozen health plans. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska said it had to hire temporary workers to contact new customers directly to resolve inaccuracies in submissions. Medical Mutual of Ohio said one customer had successfully signed up for three of its plans.

Sebelius told us over-and-over again the website would be open, up and running for open enrollment. In her defense, she never said it would actually work, it would just be open.

Now Sebelius is saying they needed five years of development time and one year of testing to do the job.

“It’s tough to take these shots,” said Secretary Sebelius, who made clear in an interview she wouldn’t resign. “But I will take them until we get this right.” She and other officials say the site is slowly improving.

Yet even some of the law’s supporters criticize her management of the rollout, particularly after it became clear the site’s troubles weren’t just “glitches,” as Mrs. Sebelius had first said, but broader design defects.

After two weeks of review, the HHS secretary concluded, “We didn’t have enough testing, specifically for high volumes, for a very complicated project.”

The online insurance marketplace needed five years of construction and a year of testing, she said: “We had two years and almost no testing.”

I want to point something out here… it was possible for people to search for – and sign up for – health insurance policies before the Obamacare websites and the existence of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Now that the government is involved, is it any better? Nope, it’s much worse. And they spent more than $500 million on just the website for the federal government! Certainly, they will spend at least another $500 million over the next two years on maintenance, updates and fixes.

In my next post, we’ll look at the cost of health insurance premiums before Obamacare as to what’s available now.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. cranky yankee on October 20, 2013 at 11:18 am

    They used 10 year old technology to build the site, our computers and smart phones are obsolete the day you buy them. ?Who in this administration is an investor in the Canadian company that built it.

  2. sammy22 on October 20, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I believe that the States had the opportunity to develop their own exchanges (with money from the Feds). Many States decided to pass on the opportunity: dumb move!

    • Dimsdale on October 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      That sounds mighty analogous to the greater problem of accepting, or better, allowing federal control of healthcare: dumb move by dumber pols!? If they can’t even handle the relatively simple signup process (with three years, 600 million bucks, and the forgotten fact that most of the big software moguls are hardcore lefties), how does any thinking being expect them to handle implementation??
      They should have lept on the opportunity the Repubs were handing them with a one year delay, but the hubris is epic.

    • sammy22 on October 21, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      The so called one-year delay was a proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

    • Dimsdale on October 22, 2013 at 9:15 am

      So what is your pithy name for the release of a completely broken sign up website that cost more than a half BILLION dollars?? (do we get our money back, btw?)
      How about “The ?bamafail Trojan Horse”?

    • Lynn on October 22, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      Ok, I can’t stand it. The Republicans put forth bills to be fair(which is President Obama’s favorite word) and ask that the individual mandate be delayed for one year. This was because businesses were allowed a reprieve from this train wreck called Obamacare. Of course the high and mighty president, could not allow this to his “signature” legislation. So, of course the DEMOCRATS pursued shutting down the govt instead of going along with the commonsense delay. For Goodness sake can’t any bleeding heart liberal understand the pain of people who have lost their healthcare from their employer or because a business dropped spouses, can’t sign up with the handy dandy simple website and they will have to pay a fine, if they can’t sign up! Mad Magazine could not have written this farce!?

  3. stinkfoot on October 20, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Frankly the sum of the administrations policies suggests to me that the greeater objective is to break the back of the middle class and destroy the economy- in that context, QA of any details associated with Obamacare is irrelevant.

    • Lynn on October 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Stinkfoot couldn’t have said it better myself.

  4. JollyRoger on October 20, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Definitely would seem logical the next step is a push for single payer since that would streamline things and save billions more. ?I just got my “Trust the Government” t-shirts on zazzle! ?They’ve got an American Indian on them; and you know what happened when the government gave them free blankets! ?Free healthcare? ?No thanks! ?And why do they want to know your political party when you enroll?

    • stinkfoot on October 21, 2013 at 6:06 am

      Why are they interested in party affiliation?? Because they want to make double sure that anyone with opposing political views are afforded the best and most affordable coverage- the same way the IRS expedited tax exempt status applications for Conservative and tea party groups ahead of the 2012 elections.

  5. Dimsdale on October 21, 2013 at 8:34 am

    The government will spend trillions to save billion, and still look you in the eye and say they are saving money.? We are half a billion in the hole already for nothiing more than an alleged sign up program, for God’s sake!? Try to imagine the fun when they attempt to manipulate an entire sixth of the economy (which is now on track to inflate to half of our economy)…

    • sammy22 on October 21, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Should have hired better software developers and programmers.

    • Dimsdale on October 21, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Soon to be followed by “should have hired better administrators” or “shouldn’t have used the demonstrably tainted IRS to enforce it” or “should have thought the whole thing through instead of ramming it through”, right?
      Mike S. Adams had an excellent quote:
      “Obama brings in the government to take over a private industry, fumbles, and now brings in experts from private industry to help solve new problems the government has created but cannot fix.”
      So why do I not have a good feeling about the rest of ?bamacare?? This was supposedly the easy part.

  6. SeeingRed on October 21, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Listening to the ‘guest host’ for Jim’s show last week, I thought everything was just ducky as-is?

  7. sammy22 on October 21, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Still waiting for the GOP healthcare plan.

    • Dimsdale on October 22, 2013 at 9:18 am

      You had it with the unbroken system we had.? All anyone, even the president, had to do was put in some minor fixes, like the ability to sell insurance across state lines, and make a high risk pool for people with preexisting conditions.? Not attempt to rewrite the entire system under the control of the federal government, which, as we have seen in the cases of the IRS and NRA (to name a few), is prone to political manipulation and corruption.
      Still waiting for your reasons ?bamacare is so great….

    • Dimsdale on October 22, 2013 at 9:29 am

      Add to that the fact that cost overruns and upward spirals could have been contained by changing the previous government meddling into healthcare, i.e. the law passed that says any and everyone that is rolled into an ER has to be treated to say, and they have to? have the means to pay for it.? Passing the costs to the hospital, and, eventually, you and me, is the greatest driver of cost increases, and the greatest indication that politicians never consider the unintended consequences of their feel good legislation.
      For the record, ?care (pronouced Zerocare) purports to deal with this, but does not consider that scores of new, high use patients will likely overwhelm the system.? We already know that there simply won’t be enough doctors.? Now there won’t be enough beds.?
      Unintended consequences…..

    • Lynn on October 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      Oh forget it, Dimsdale said it already. However, How can anyone ask for a Republican healthcare plan, unless he has been locked in his parent’s basement. Did you not see the dimwit president dismiss Paul Ryan, with his sneering criticism, after he invited him to present his plan! ?Oh for God’s sake open your darn eyes and stop carrying water for this worthless Democrat oligarchy, Gunga Din (look it up on Wickepedia).

    • SeeingRed on October 23, 2013 at 8:50 am

      You blindly praise the idea of an ‘open marketplace’ and yet would not support dropping the barriers that would allow ALL HC insurers to offer their products ‘across state lines’? This would have cost the Fed Gubmint ZERO $$, and created competition where big-biz ‘co-opetition existed before.? Letting Aetna, CIGNA, The Blues, Wellpoint, Humana, UHG, etc. spend their private $$ to build consumer friendly front ends was too good of an idea, and provided NO gubmental control though, did it?

    • Steve McGough on October 23, 2013 at 9:13 am

      @sammy22 – SCREW THAT. There were PLENTY of proposals and legislation written on the GOP side of the House and Senate back when this was going down. There has been for years.?Don’t you dare try to re-write history and ignore GOP proposals around here or you’re gone. Click here for just one example. I’m not saying I agreed with any of them, but if you claim the GOP is sitting on their hands doing nothing again, you’re out. Got it?

  8. Delta on October 22, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I work in the tech sector and have worked with web developers, I cannot believe it would cost a half-billion to develop a site that cannot hold more than 100k simultaneous connections. The front-end of the website should have no problem coming up for the user at any time, properly designed and executed. The back-end should be scalable enough to handle increasing loads as more or less users use the site. We have virtual server farms like Amazon EC2 and Rackspace that most large developers leverage to scale more resources on-demand. Companies like Blizzard and Electronic Arts battle mass-logon problems when they release their games, and those numbers are many times larger than There is really no excuse for these kinds of problems, besides admitting failure, sacking the project managers and leads who made these terrible decisions, and bringing in proper people to get the job done.
    Forget government getting out of my personal life, tell them to get out of my virtual life too. Ted Stevens thought the internet was a series of tubes, and Obama and Co. can’t even figure out how to sell healthcare through those tubes.

    • Dimsdale on October 22, 2013 at 11:24 am

      Thank you!? You are showing that this debacle is ?bamacare writ small; a prelude of the disaster to come.

  9. sammy22 on October 22, 2013 at 11:20 am

    You still think that the we had “an unbroken system”? A few tweaks and that was all that was needed? Dreaming….. The States had the option of creating their own, home grown exchanges. They fiddled … so much for the vaunted ” States should have control” mantra.

    • Dimsdale on October 22, 2013 at 11:29 am

      No, far from it.? I am saying that what we had was better and cheaper.? ?bamacare will crash they system just like it crashed its signup page: the system will be overburdened and crumble under its own weight.? As Jim noted yesterday, signups in CT were largely from people that already qualified for medicare or people that could have bought their own healthcare at any time on their own, and now, they are finding out, for less.? When you take away the freebie incentive of passing the costs onto hospitals, people will signup out of self interest, not government force.? If they needed yet another “safety net” for the outliers, then they could have done that at less cost and confusion.?
      How do states have control when Big Brother is telling them what to do?

  10. bien-pensant on October 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    IF health insurance and nationalized health care for everyone is the goal of liberals, then it begs the question of why the democrats chose to involve government in it in such a monstrous way?
    Why enlarge government? Why destroy the private health insurance companies? Why roll out something that is plainly not ready? Why further saddle American families with ever increasing costs?
    Providing health care coverage to everyone was as simple as giving people incentives. How about being able to claim health insurance costs and health care costs on one’s income tax? There are plenty of other options that don’t involve growing government.
    ObamaCare is ALL about money and power. It is just another scheme to confiscate money from people and give big government liberals more power.

    • Lynn on October 22, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      I like your idea about claiming health insurance claims on your income tax. That with all that Dims said above plus Tort Reform and we are ?fixing what didn’t work before.?

    • bien-pensant on October 23, 2013 at 7:58 am

      I believe it used to be that way. Even though it is a loophole, it gives incentive for average workers to maintain health insurance. Too simple for the dems.
      Who could have thought that adding thousands of regulations and increasing mandated services would lead to lower costs? Er, Barry and the big government democrats?

  11. bien-pensant on October 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Seriously, sammy22, simply Googling: Republican Health Care Plans returned 99+ million hits. The House GOP Health Care Solutions Group has a very good outline of real world suggestions.
    Every year, Republicans have submitted proposals. Sometimes multiples.
    Any Republican plans and suggestions, are dead-on-arrival as far as the democrats are concerned. This debacle is entirely a democrat proposition, beginning to end.


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