Do HealthCare.Gov’s Early Glitches Mean It’s Doomed To Failure?

CREDIT: Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images

Since launched on Tuesday, Republicans have highlighted the site’s early glitches, delays, and shutdowns, arguing that the law is not ready to enroll uninsured Americans for coverage. Some uninsured were unable to initially access the marketplace and others couldn’t create an account. The website often froze or ran too slowly.

Administration officials are attributing the technical difficulties to a higher-than-expected interest in health care coverage and plan to fix technical issues in the days ahead.

Indeed, websites that attract millions of visitors tend to experience problems, particularly in the early days of a roll out. Below are just five examples of large privately-run sites going down when hit with large amounts of traffic, including the GOP’s very own webpage:


“The same day GOP Chairman Michael Steele unveiled a new online home for the Republican Party, the website apparently crashed, leaving users unable to log on to” [CNN, 10/13/2009]


“In what may be an unprecedented outage, all of Google’s services briefly went dark about 4:52 on Friday afternoon Pacific time. The outage, which reportedly affected most of Google’s services worldwide, led to a staggering 40% drop in global Internet traffic. In 2009, Google’s internet search engine also “crashed for several hours, leaving several million users unable to access the site because of a temporary fault.” [Business Insider, 8/18/2013]


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“If you’re a frequent Twitter user, you’ve probably noticed that the microblogging site has been crashing repeatedly this week.” [CNN, 6/10/2010]


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“WordPress, the popular blogging platform that supports more than 10 million blogs…went down for several hours because of a coding problem.” [CNN, 6/11/2010]



“Target’s Web site came crashing down on Tuesday as Missoni-loving fashion devotées invaded, scrambling to buy the high-end Italian designer’s clothes for a song.” [NYT, 9/13/2011]


Through detractors will continue to turn technical hiccups into large problems to create the perception that enrollment is too complicated or cumbersome, the early glitches will have to be smoothed out for the government to hit its enrollment targets as the six-month enrollment period continues.

Increasing capacity on the site, however, may require additional funding, which Republicans in Congress have repeatedly blocked. The GOP has denied additional funding requests for ACA implementation in FY 2013 and FY 2012, leaving the agency running at pre-ACA levels. The Department of Health and Human Services has also lost billions to sequestration, including $44 million cut from the Affordable Insurance Exchange Grants program.