The Obamacare Website Is Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Ezra Klein is blistering today about the continuing problems with the federal website used to sign up for Obamacare:

The Obama administration doesn’t have a basically working product that would be improved by a software update. They have a Web site that almost nobody has been able to successfully use….Overwhelming crush of traffic is behind many of the Web site’s failures. But the Web site was clearly far, far from prepared for traffic at anywhere near these levels. That’s a planning flaw….Part of the problem, according to a number of designers, is that the site is badly coded, which makes the traffic problems more acute. 

….The Obama administration did itself — and the millions of people who wanted to explore signing up — a terrible disservice by building a Web site that, four days into launch, is still unusable for most Americans. They knew that the only way to quiet the law’s critics was to implement it effectively. And building a working e-commerce Web site is not an impossible task, even with the added challenges of getting various government data services to talk to each other. Instead, the Obama administration gave critics arguing that the law isn’t ready for primetime more ammunition for their case.

I’ll stick to what I said a couple of days ago: these problems will all get fixed fairly soon and then everyone will forget about them. At the same time, I’ll concede that the problems appear to be considerably bigger and deeper than I’d expected, even given the complexity of what HHS had to do. Underestimating demand is one thing, but some of the problems on the federal site make you wonder if it underwent any testing at all before it was launched. These aren’t skeevy little bugs that only show up under weird circumstances. They’re failures of basic functionality. It really does appear to be a cock-up.

But this too will pass. It’s an embarrassment, but a short-term one. At least, it better be.