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Analyzing The Healthcare.Gov Debacle Essay

2944 words - 12 pages

2013

MIS - 7650
12/2/2013
2013

MIS - 7650
12/2/2013

Analyzing the HealthCare.gov Debacle
Analyzing the HealthCare.gov Debacle

Overview
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, putting in place a comprehensive reform designed to improve access to affordable health coverage for American citizens and to protect consumers from abusive insurance company practices (The White House, 2013). To achieve their goal of providing affordable health care to citizens worldwide, the government set up a Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as Healthcare.gov. Under the law, the online marketplace was to act as a centralized portal in which ...view middle of the document...

In the end, CMS contracted 55 IT companies to assist with various aspects of building and operating the exchange. By law, the website had to be up and running by October 1, 2013.

In the first week of the website’s launch, 3.7 million Americans attempted to register, with just over a million of those people finding success (Rundansky, 2013). The problems with the site have been well documented and include a combination of not enough server capacity to handle the volume of people seeking insurance through the site and glitches in the site itself that prevents people from registering and enrolling in insurance plans (Kliff, 2013).

Recently, the server capacity issue was resolved; however, several glitches still remain and continue to be discovered. The White House and top officials have re-assured that the insurance exchange will work smoothly for the vast majority of Americans by November 30th (Kliff, 2013).

Looking to the past, it is evident that technology projects have never been easy for the federal government. According to The Standish Group, a research firm, “94 percent of large federal information technology projects over the past 10 years were unsuccessful; more than half were delayed, over budget, or didn’t meet user expectations, and 41.4 percent failed completely (Sullivan, 2013).” Hence, no one should be surprised by the technical anomalies that have troubled the new health insurance exchange website, HealthCare.gov. Failures or delays in schedule, budget and functionality hiccups are so common as to almost be the norm, not the exception. Throughout the deposit of this report, the countless elements that contributed to the disappointing rollout of HealthCare.gov will be examined.

Analysis
After President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law; he knew that technology would play an important part in implementing the central component of the Act, the Insurance Marketplace. As a result, HealthCare.gov was birthed. The healthcare exchange would be one of the most complex IT projects that the federal government has ever undertaken. As mentioned, the website had to be able to carry out a slew of tasks, as well, as pull information from various government entities, making this a difficult task even in the eyes of experienced IT companies.

The chart shown below illustrates the complexity of the HealthCare.gov system and shows how the information flows between the different systems. The 2nd chart also depicts the flow of information, but in addition shows which contractor was responsible for each component of the system.

Source: The Washington Post

Source: Huffington Post

In hind sight, it seems as if HealthCare.gov was doomed from inception. For starters, the entire project was overseen by CMS. CMS wasn’t a software company, and had no prior experience managing a project this large, but of course, some government agency had to be in charge. It quickly became evident that CMS did not have the in-house IT...

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