Are Hackers Responsible for Healthcare.gov Website Failures?
Enrollment in the state and federal insurance exchange programs has been a bumpy process for many people, as we’ve mentioned often here at Care2. Although the states that have opened their own personal exchange sites have as a group had much fewer website issues than the federal exchange at Healthcare.gov, it’s clear that no one has had an easy time getting the programs up and running. Still, it seems like the federal exchange can’t catch a break when it comes to dealing with the glitches and errors that have plagued the rollout of the enrollment period.
Now, there’s a theory as to why it has been so rocky: sabotage.
According to CNN, a DDOS program, called “Destroy Obama Care,” has been seen on a file sharing webpage, although the administration says there is no “no evidence the program had actually been launched to attack the troubled federal portal.”
A writer for the Examiner is less convinced. He links to numerous sites discussing the file and quotes those who explain why it should be deployed against the website. “This program continually displays alternate page of the ObamaCare website. It has no virus, Trojans, worms, or cookies. The purpose is to overload the ObamaCare website, to deny service to users and perhaps overload and crash the system,” David Philips quotes the “rightwing patriots” as saying on their sites. ”You can open as many copies of this program as you want. Each copy opens multiple links to the site…ObamaCare is an affront to the Constitutional rights of the people…We have the right to civil disobedience!”
If a coordinated attack is responsible for these website issues, it is one that must be spread out to certain states, as well. Maryland has been reporting ongoing issues with its private state exchange site, which has no relation to the federal site and should not be affected by any attacks on the main web portal. Yet as the Washington Post reports, Maryland has had a difficult time getting people registered online, often resorting to paper applications that must be entered manually, which significantly slows down the process. Then there is Oregon, which hasn’t managed to enroll a person online at all.
Oregon has announced that the issue is a complicated Oracle system and too many options mucking up the works, and Maryland agrees, having streamlined their website to be more simple to make the applications more likely to go through.
Whatever has been going on with Healthcare.gov, be it cyber-sabotage related or just poor site development, the system is working the kinks out, and for those trying to enroll now the process is becoming almost glitch free. As one writer in Alabama points out, it may have taken until mid-November to file an application, but the results were “worth the wait.” The author also provides a fantastic list of troubleshooting advice to help others have a fast, clean experience, including what browsers to use, what email works best for enrollment and how to tell if you finished the process.
Is enrollment worth it? Ask Speaker of the House and Republican Leader John Boehner. After the Speaker made a big production over how difficult he found it to enroll in the D.C. exchange, a process that ended up taking him about an hour, Salon writer Brian Beutler attempted to “recreate his experience” to see what sort of insurance premiums he ended up with. Entering information similar to that of the Speaker — a man almost but not quite eligible for Medicare, with a high net worth, a salary of over $200,000 a year and who is a smoker — Beutler was able to get plans ranging from $370 a month with a $6000 deductible to just over $1000 a month and no deductible. “Not bad for a man on the cusp of his golden years!” remarks Beutler.
Whether the site is being torpedoed by cyber attacks or just poorly constructed, one thing is clear: People are eventually getting through and, when they do, they are getting high quality health care for affordable costs. No amount of political posturing or “civil disobedience” can block that forever.
Photo credit: Thinkstock