Why did the Federal Health Care Web Project fail?

I’ve heard all the stories, what with Republicans crying foul, other people pointing and effectively saying “See, it doesn’t work!”

Here I’ll explain what I think went wrong. I’ve taken a peek at the source code, read several Reddit threads on it and I think at this point I can make a reasoned argument of why the web site for the healthcare reform crashed pretty hard.

It is because the contractor hired to build it was none other than United Healthcare. Yes, the insurance giant.

What exactly did everyone expect to happen? Large corporations for some reason cannot handle large projects like the rollout of a national health web site. They just cant’ do it.

What they should have done was open source the whole thing. I’m talking standard LAMP stuff here. You could have Apache setup as a load balancing system. One main Apache instance would then walk through, round robin style, to other Apache servers. Those servers would connect to different instances of MySQL, fully replicated. And finally the programming language, you could use PHP, Python, and even the dread Java and still get it right.

There’s an old saying in the I.T. world:

Fast, cheap, right. Choose two. If you want it fast and cheap it’s not going to be right. If you want it cheap and right it isn’t going to be fast. And finally if you want it fast and right, it isn’t going to be cheap.


3 thoughts on “Why did the Federal Health Care Web Project fail?

  1. I heard the company who designed the site was fired by Canada for doing such a terrible job on their healthcare website. Our govt can send people to the moon and collect intelligence until the cows come home, but we can’t set up a web interface that works???

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