Billion Dollar Obamacare Website Suffers Last-Minute Glitch

AP/Don Ryan
AP/Don Ryan

On the eve of open enrollment for Obamacare, a glitch prevented users from submitting their applications for hours on Saturday.

The problem involved income verification. Because this function had “intermittent issues” (according to DHHS), some users were unable to submit their applications. The Fiscal Times reports the problem was resolved around 8pm. Users were instructed to log back into the site, complete their applications and submit them.

Some states announced they would be extending the deadline for those who had problems signing up. California extended the deadline to February 20t for those who had already stated but were unable to complete their applications. New York extended the deadline by two weeks.

The glitch could be called surprising, given the amount of resources spent on the site. According to a report by Bloomberg Business last year, the federal government has spent over $2.1 billion to build and maintain That figure includes about $900 million spent on the site itself, plus hundreds of millions more spent on related contracts, e.g. $300 million for a contract to process paper applications.

Saturday’s last-minute glitch is a reminder of the debacle that spoiled the rollout of Obamacare in 2013. Back then the site was so error-ridden that only six people were able to sign up via the national website on the first day. The site remained in a hobbled, barely-functional state for nearly two months after its launch. Eventually a team of outside experts were able to get the site running in time for a surge of applicants in early 2014. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stayed on through the end of the first enrollment period and then resigned shortly thereafter.