Health Care Website Trouble

A PBS news story assesses problems with the new healthcare website, which, according to a CNN report, includes log-in errors, delays, incorrect information, and the requirement for users to register before browsing plan options.

In the interview, a software expert tells Hari Sreenivasan that the fixes are in "the right direction," but "it's going to take quite a long time to fix the entire system." Another systems expert explained the complications: the site is a "massive integration project" across several states and agencies. Just one transaction (for example, signing someone up for health care), requires a "tremendous" amount of coordination. The government's lack of experience in managing such complexity is blamed for the problems, including running out of time for proper testing.

The PBS News Hour guests paint a grim picture of the site going forward, claiming that users have encountered problems so far with mostly the site interface. Problems with data integration and coordination are yet to be discovered, but surely will. A troubleshooter admits that the fixes will take a month.

The Obama Administration is now under pressure to delay the enrollment deadline.  Some are calling for Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's resignation.

Discussion Starters:

  • How do you think the website problems will affect Obama's legacy? Will people remember this, or will it blow over once the site (we hope) is up and running?
  • In the PBS interview, Hari Sreenivasan asks whether it was realistic for software development to follow a political timeline. What does he mean by this, and what's your view?