Recently released documents reveal that the failed federal insurance e-commerce website, Healthcare.gov, could only handle 1,100 users the day before it launched [PDF]. It has long been suspected that the White House prioritized politics over technical realities in the launch of the healthcare website, but this is some of the best proof that officials were burying their heads in the sand.
“Currently we are able to reach 1100 users before response time gets too high,” noted a technical report to the website team. Eventually, the document notes, they hoped the website could handle 10,000.
On its first day, healthcare.gov was visited by 2.8 million people. According to the USA Today, the administration expected 50-60,000 concurrent users, and received as many as 250,000.
- Capacity: 1,100
- Expected: 55,000
- Actual: 250,000
So, on launch day, only six managed to enroll, threatening America’s consumers with higher premiums. The administration’s team was completely unprepared.
“They were running the biggest start-up in the world, and they didn’t have anyone who had run a start-up, or even run a business,” Harvard Professor David Cutler told The Washington Post. “It’s very hard to think of a situation where the people best at getting legislation passed are best at implementing it. They are a different set of skills.”
How? How does a website launch on a day when the technical team thinks it can handle less than one-tenth of the demand? This kind of incompetence is why startups should have handled the task of building the e-commerce experience.