HealthCare.gov: The High Cost of Poor Quality Assurance

A few months back, we wrote a post on quality assurance. In that post, we talked about how important it is to test and test and test before letting a project leave our hands. Since we’re so careful to make sure that things are working perfectly before they launch, we have to wonder how the failure of HealthCare.gov, the massive federal healthcare e-commerce website, could have happened. Clearly this is a hugely complex project and things are bound to go wrong, but there was most certainly a breakdown in quality assurance. Millions of dollars have been wasted because of that, and we just don’t understand how this could have happened. 

Back in October

In the beginning of October, one week after the exchange opened, folks started to notice some widespread issues with the website. None of them were an easy fix, but the techies behind the scenes pulled all nighters to get it under control. But as one problem was solved, another was right behind it. There’s a lot of documentation showing that those in charge were focused on getting the kinks worked out rather than the bigger issue: the whole website had big time problems.

The problems

Some users were unable to even complete the first step and were blocked from creating an account. Others couldn’t enter their income, home address or citizenship status. The estimates people were getting were incorrect because they couldn’t enter in complete information. The list of issues goes on and on and we can just imagine a group of techies tearing their hair out as more malfunctions became apparent every day.

After building so many websites, we know that something that’s not a problem for 1,000 users can get very ugly when it becomes 100,000 users. Issues are bound to arise, but how did they not anticipate what they were going to be before launch?  That is definitely a failure of quality assurance.

Fast forward to today

There has been a large team of techies working around the clock in crowded conference rooms in McLean, Virginia trying to fix HealthCare.gov. They’ve managed to get the site to the point where 80% of its users have a successful experience and are able to enroll in an insurance plan. People who have complicated situations may have to finish their enrollment process offline, but most folks should have no issues with the site at this point. Why couldn’t these problems have been identified and fixed before now, after many people have been frustrated and so much bad PR spread around? It’s certainly not helping generate warm fuzzies for Obamacare!


Estimated cost so far has been $174 million out of a $600 million contract. That number is mind boggling, isn’t it?  Just to put it in context, here’s a list of things you can get for that much money:

  • 128,888,889 bags of Swedish fish
  • 218,750 iPhone 5S’s
  • 175,000 Chihuahua puppies
  • 5,000 mini coopers
  • 87,500,000 tacos

Imagine how much happier we would all be if we could have 175,000 Chihuahua puppies instead of a semi-functional website? 

Rest assured that when you hire us, there will be no quality assurance breakdown as we all work together to make sure you get the best possible product. And we won’t charge you $600 million either!

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