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Are Hackers Responsible for Healthcare.gov Website Failures?

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.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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248 comments

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9:37PM PST on Dec 12, 2013

death panel I understand is a part of the republican scare tactic and considering how badly the repubs want the care plan to fail I wouldn't be at all surprised if there wasn't hacker activity involved .

5:24PM PST on Nov 29, 2013

Thanks.

3:21AM PST on Nov 28, 2013

Thanks for posting this

4:36PM PST on Nov 27, 2013

Paul, I believe you are referring to a man in a vegetative state a&the family assumed because he farted in 2012 that he is cognisant. Sadly, the poor man is a vegetable & will never recover. Physicians wanted to let the man die by letting nature take its course. The family are unrealistic & unreasonable. They were consulted many times & simply refused to let him go. To me, that is absolute cruelty & selfishness on behalf of the family keeping a body present for their misplaced hopes. Such instances occur everywhere including the US. When my mother had a major coronary & was on life support with no hope of recovery (her heart was mush) we had a family meeting with the MD & let her go. That is kindness & common sense, not a "death panel". People have unrealistic expectations. Perhaps if that family had to pay for their loved one's care, for perhaps years, they might not be so unyielding. If one considers consultation with the patient, family & doctors to let someone die with dignity, myself included, I would be all for them.

3:59PM PST on Nov 27, 2013

Here's something I find interesting about the whole discussion of the ACA here: Nobody in the U.S. seems to have considered other limits on care, like the number of doctors, which limits it where I am Where I am, there is universal insurance under a single-payer system ... and about a third of the people in my city cannot get effective preventative care.. (Due to the single-payer system, the government writes the checks and, to limit healthcare costs, it issues a very limited number of permits each year to bill the public system. Because everybody is already covered under the single payer, private health-insurance is extraordinarily rare here, so without a permit, doctors really cannot work. Altogether, we have universal insurance, but worse coverage than the U.S.)

Hi Dylan,

The only indication that Groseclose and Milyo could have bias is the results of their studies, results that have not been effectively challenged on any grounds related to their validity. To call these results biased is just circular "logic", and the same argument could be made of literally any statistics meeting the criteria you set out. The at that you then proceeded to dismiss Pew polling just because it was in the same post as groseclose and Milyo shows precisely how honest you are about wanting unbiased statistics. You seem to just want to declare that such statistics don't exist,

3:28PM PST on Nov 27, 2013

Paul, if you got out of your right wing bubble occaisonally you would KNOW we are NOT stifling individulaism in any way. HELPING people does NOT stifle them. My sons generation has absolutely NO lack of individualism. Nor did Mine.

Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps came from MY generation……you simply carry on the tradition. The playing field is no longer friendly to many people in our society. THe simple fact that you think if everyone did what YOU did they would be successful is laugbale. There are many many reasonsthat isnt true. You inablitity ot see that is your limitation. Obama isnt trying to keep us dependent. He is trying to fix shit that is broken. Our health care system is BROKEN. Yes it has some good things like immediate care for anything we can afford. It is FAR too expensive and as the insurers get more and more restrictive it gets less and less fair.

It doesnt matter if the ACA is here or not…..the insurance companies have their own death panels as you like to call them. The point is there are far too many people left without insurance because health insurers wont cover them. The ACA is simply trying to fix that. Of course the system will need tweaking. Everyone knew that from day one. 85% of the people LIKING something doesnt make it the right thing to do. Civil rights and many other things in our past were wrong too and corrected, many time agaisnt the will of the people. WE have COMPULSORY auto insurance…..

3:09PM PST on Nov 27, 2013

Paul B.... If you know that term is "offensive" (your words) why use it ? Patient Care conference is what we say and even your "advisory board" smacks of someone else (medical or insurance) making final decisions......So you don't want somone telling you not to get sick even though you have little faith in the ACA?...You also used the term "selfish" in a post to Linda stating (paraphrased) that everyone would want care.. the selfishness disease you called it......then you said everyone "blamed everyone else" (again paraphrased)....in your recent posts you have blamed immigration, the ACA, the government,insurance companies, Phamaceutical companies, etc.....not once did I find you said "let's work towards a plan that will benefit ALL US citizens.....BTW.... I think I mentioned it as you think I only get my info from here..... American brother and sister-in-law (living in the US and has had heart bypass surgery) and my Dad was American....It's you who is condescending..... In Canada, your premiums wouldn't have gone up at all for your wife's care.

1:48PM PST on Nov 27, 2013

BTW... that was wrong for you to call me selfish and your sarcastic remark regarding me getting sick. How about we keep the personal attacks out of our conversations.

1:44PM PST on Nov 27, 2013

Some people call these advisory boards, death panels, whatever. I don't doubt you are intelligent, and I think the term is misleading and somewhat derogatory, but we really only arguing semantics.

1:43PM PST on Nov 27, 2013

Mary... As for death panels, that is simply a term, one I don't especially agreed with, but their function is to regulate healthcare. As I have said, there is no way ANY society can provide COMPLETE coverage for every person, for every illness, regardless of the stage of life, general health condition etc. People die for a variety of reasons and no society can reasonably expect to keep EVERY person alive as long as medically possible, as there are costs, and risks associated with every medical procedure, and with the advancements in technology, given enough money, we could feasibly keep almost everyone alive nearly indefinitely... but we don't, and never have... it is cost prohibitive.

As such, society must ration the available dollars to those best suited to be healed. But someone must make that decision, either as a general rule or on a specific needs basis, but regardless those decisions must be made. Insurance companies do that as well.

The ACA has a panel that determines the general guidelines for healthcare coverage, the who, what, whens and why's of coverage, with consideration given for special circumstances. Regardless of what you call it, it exists in every health insurance industry, whether it is single payer, European style socialized medicine or even private insurance markets... there is no way to manage available resources otherwise.

Some people call these advisory boards, death panels, whatever. I don't doubt you are intelligent, and I think the ter

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