Health Insurance Marketplace "Glitches" Tracked to Software Mishaps

by Patrick Riley 08 Oct 2013
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The New York Times today is reporting, for the first time, comments made by Todd Park, who is the President's go to guy for technology, and has the unenviable task of sorting out the digital conundrum surrounding online health insurance marketplace enrollment shortcomings. Mr. Park expalined, "the failure occurred in the part of the Website ( that lets people create user accounts at the beginning of the nsurance sign-up process." He goes on to explain that this "glitch", if you will, was a result of a higher than anticipated volume of online activity and that, "at lower volumes it would work fine."

What would seem to be an admission of the obvious, Park went on to explain and identify the government contractors with this albatross draped around their neck and what they are doing to correct the problem. "They are working 24/7. We just wish there was more time in a day", explained Mr. Park. Reluctant to reveal the government contractors, of which there were over 50, responsible for the current malady, who might have been given this task. However, a little detective work and today's NYT's article reveals that the prime contractor for the federal exchange - CGI Federal, based ironically in Toronto, Canada is the main contractor for creating the, so called, data-services-hub for CMS. Quality Software Services, Inc., a part of UnitedHealth Group was awarded the contract for "enrollment and eligibility" functions.

To put this in perspective, CGI received $88 million for work on the health insurance exchange Website through March, and QSI captured a $55 million dollar contract for their work on the data-hub. Not exactly pocket change, and with that amount of federal dollars, it should work. The GAO reported early this summer that HHS and CMS would "not be ready" come October 1st. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, on behalf of all government contractors assured Congress as late as September 10th, that the data-hub "would be ready."

Suffice to say, engineers are reviewing code, line-by-line, in a desperate pursuit of the bug or more likely, bugs that confound online enrollment. Latest predictions by Mr. Park and government contractors point towards the end of the month for full functionality. This analyst wonders if the government will ask for some of its money back? Doubtful, on the contrary, the very government contractors who missed the mark have asked for money to fix the problem they created. Only in America.

You can follow me on Twitter @Patrick_FrostHC and follow my blogs on healthcare reform, the heatlh inurance marketplaces, and American health policy at

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Comments (1)

By  klara andrian
klara, klara

15 Jun 2017 04:35
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