USA Today has a pretty good (and fair) overview of the launch issues of Healthcare.gov today:
HealthCare.gov a winner despite glitches
Look past its start-up glitches -- they'll get fixed -- HealthCare.gov is an out-of-the-box success for consumers shopping for health insurance.
Any e-commerce veteran can tell you: If a start-up's business proposition is sound and it delivers what it promises, it survives early days when websites crash and chaos reigns. Then it thrives. We've seen it over and over, from America Online's mid-1990s outages to any of several crashes in Netflix shares when the company made pricing mistakes or Blockbuster made a run at its markets.
The key line, for me, comes a bit later in the article:
To start with, 2.8 million people crashing a site on Day One is considered a high-class problem.That sounds like a lot of traffic...but just how much traffic is it compared with other big sites?
Here's a traffic stats chart from StatisticsBrain.com:
Top Websites by Monthly VisitsAssuming this is accurate (and yes, there's a big difference between "unique visitors", "total visitors", "page views", etc; not sure which number this chart displays), that means that on it's first day, Healthcare.gov received more traffic than AMAZON does on average (assuming that Amazon's traffic is up to around 80 million per month this year, that breaks down to about 2.7 million visitors per day).
Website / 2012 Monthly Visitors / 2010 Monthly Visitors
1 Google.com 188 Million / 163 Million
2 YouTube.com 157 / 110
3 Facebook.com 148 / 135
4 Twitter.com 88 / 55
5 Yahoo.com 85 / 126
6 MSN.com 81 / 79
7 Amazon.com 77 / 74
More importantly, the process of plugging in all of your information, having the site cross-check with the IRS database (and Social Security dept?) to confirm your info, etc. takes a lot more bandwidth than it does to plug in your credit card info and purchase a DVD or hard drive.
Now, presumably traffic has died off a bit since the initial rush of excitement, but I would imagine it's still above 2 million visitors per day.
Anyway, I just thought it was worth putting the heavy traffic in context. Frankly, I'm impressed that it's holding up as well as it has--Amazon has had 18 years of slowly-building traffic to build up their infrastructure; the HHS Dept. had to guess at how much traffic they were going to be hit with all at once...and, more importantly, as someone else noted in an earlier comment on another thread, I'm sure they were assuming at the time that more states would be running their own exchanges (after all, the GOP is always screaming about "states rights" and all). Thank God both New York and California are running their own.
Actually, now that I think about it, assuming that the wording of the ACA law permitted it, it would've made a lot more sense to roll it out more slowly--say, 1 state per day.
Hell, if they'd gone alphabetically, they would have been able to ramp it up slowly with smaller states for the first week or so. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona and Arkansas are all small states...California, Colorado and Connecticut use their own state exchanges...Delaware is small...which means they would have had a week before Florida kicked in.
Then again, that would have also opened up the law and the exchanges to all sorts of additional legal and political nonsense; think about the idiocy we go through every 4 years with states scrambling to be the first ones to hold their presidential primaries...
Update: Thanks to Fake Irishman for alerting me to this article at the Washington Post, which tries to compile the initial signup data so far:
Health insurers and individuals began reporting a trickle of enrollments in the new online marketplaces created by the health-care law, as federal and state officials scrambled to try to fix technical problems that have prevented many consumers from buying coverage.Also, in some cases the companies themselves are reporting plenty of printed applications...which they're waiting to submit to the website until things clear up a bit:
The White House has declined to release any national statistics on sign-ups, saying complete information was not yet available.
Cigna, which is selling plans on five state marketplaces, began getting enrollments Wednesday night.
“Most of day one and two we didn’t see enrollments,” Cigna spokesman Joe Mondy said. “But we’ve been able to start getting enrollments as of last night.”
Mondy confirmed that Cigna has received enrollments in Florida, one of the states where the federal government is running the marketplaces.
“It’s definitely working,” said Mario Molina, chief executive of Molina Healthcare., which is offering plans in nine states, including several on the exchange being run by the federal government. “I know people have been having difficulty accessing Web sites, but I am told by staff that they were able to get into every state Web site. It’s working.”
Maginnis said that insurance applications were beginning to pile up on brokers’ desks across the state, as they waited for the online marketplaces to get up to speed before submitting the documents electronically.
“We have been accumulating a lot of paper,” he said. “They’ll be submitting those electronically. They’re being held in queue right now.”