E-Mails Show That Healthcare.gov Wasn’t Ready to Handle 500 Visitors in the Days Before Launch

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A woman looks at the HealthCare.gov insurance exchange internet site October 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. A woman looks at the HealthCare.gov insurance exchange internet site October 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. US President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is commonly called, passed in March 2010, went into effect Tuesday at 8am EST. Heavy Internet traffic and system problems plagued the launch of the new health insurance exchanges Tuesday morning. Consumers attempting to log on were met with an error message early Tuesday due to an overload of Internet traffic.  Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is commonly called, passed in March 2010, went into effect Tuesday at 8am EST. Heavy Internet traffic and system problems plagued the launch of the new health insurance exchanges Tuesday morning. Consumers attempting to log on were met with an error message early Tuesday due to an overload of Internet traffic. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER        (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo: Karen Bleier,KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GEtty Images

As part of its investigation into healthcare.gov's poorly rated debut, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released some e-mails sent by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services employees in the days leading up to its October 1 launch. Unsurprisingly, the documents indicate that the site was not at all prepared for the estimated 250,000 visitors it had on its first day. On September 26, one official warned that the results of three days of site tests with 2,000 users were "not good and not consistent at all." Here is his colleague's panicked response: "I DO NOT WANT A REPEAT OF WHAT HAPPENED NEAR THE END OF DECEMBER 2005 WHERE MEDICARE.GOV HAD A MELTDOWN (THIS IS TO GET YOUR ATTENTION IF I DIDN’T HAVE IT ALREADY)." Just a day later, another official offered an even grimmer progress report. "We have not been successful in moving beyond 500 concurrent users filling applications," wrote the CMS's David Nelson. "We must give ourselves the ability to work through these tuning issues." We assume you know what happened next.