Affordable Health Care Website Had Glitches That May Have Discouraged Users

CNN released a poll including the Presidential approval rating indicator. Results showed a 41 percent approval rating for President Obama and a disapproval rating of 56 percent as of Thursday Nov. 21, .

These two indicators were records for the second term president, marking his lowest approval rating ever and highest disapproval. Though the executive office has seen its share of controversial issues, the recent problem is with what is Obama’s defining policy; the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA, also known as Obama-Care was created to provide protections that were not always mandatory in health insurance coverages like the exclusion of those with pre-existing conditions and discrimination based upon gender. It extends the age that a child can remain under their parents Healthcare plans to the age of 26, which will directly affect college students. The act has the goal of ensuring that the approximately 47 million people, according to the census, are without coverage are provided with either cheap or even free health care.

There have been issues with the health care website. Which is where people can go to apply for healthcare under the new Affordable Care Act provisions. The website acts as a marketplace to bridge the gap between health insurance providers and costumers.

The goal of the marketplace is to not only make the process easier for those purchasing healthcare but to make the market more competitive.

Many had issues signing up the application process often ended in a conversation with customer service.

According to the LATimes in Oct, loading the website itself took eight to 12 seconds. At some points during the month, the system was operating at 40 percent. The problems left many wondering how something like this could happen to a government website. 

\As with any website, time is crucial when talking about preparation, especially with a website that sees the traffic that “The Marketplace” has and will. We can look at that Oct. 1 release date as the possible reason behind the website blunders.

Jaime Kretsch, specialist professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering said, “In my opinion any service or website with a stated purpose of serving the needs of others would be derelict in its duty if it failed in that goal.”

Kretsch continued, “This website was no exception, and it did not meet the needs of those who were relying on it. It was in the unenviable position, however, where even if the problems were recognized in advance and the site wasn’t released to the public by the stated deadline they would have still come under attack for not being ready on time. Thus, it was released, and problems ensued.”

Kretsch pointed to good “project management.” She continued, “Any large scale development effort should use software that tracks tasks to be completed and allows management to always know where they are in the process. As soon as the project management reports indicate that the project is in danger of not finishing on time, management should take extra steps to bring in more resources (programmers and/or testers) and step up other efforts to support those working on the project.

She continued, “I’d be reluctant to point to any single part of the development effort as being at fault, and again repeat that management of the project really held all of the cards in their hands. If the contractor who was charged with building the site brought in extra resources to assist with the project early enough – whether that assistance was on the development or the testing side of things, the end result may have been totally different.”

The President and staff have been in constant movement since the release. According to the administration claims many of the “bugs” have been fixed. Speaker of the House John Boehner was even able to apply for health insurance last week.

According to the White House, the system now operates at 90 percent and averages at half a second loading time.

Britney Wade, a junior communication major, said, “I like the idea of Obama-care and that the website has been revamped. I feel [the affordable care act and a working website] is beneficial to many people, including students. I have a few friends who do not have health insurance, so here’s a way to make sure that they too receive aid.”

Dr. Joseph Patten, Chair of the Political Science and Sociology Department said, “There are always implementation issues whenever government rolls out a big program.

Patten continued, “Some of these involving the webpage have obviously hurt President Obama’s public approval numbers.  However, there is some evidence that the rate of inflation on health care costs has slowed pretty dramatically as well.  All two term presidents since Harry Truman have had rough second terms.”

IMAGE TAKEN by Christopher Orlando