It is unknown if the HealthCare.gov website will be up to optimum performance levels as you read these words. With the President of the United States looking down his nose at a “failed” software project, one can only imagine what it must feel like to be a software developer on the HealthCare.gov team.

Remember your worst chewing-out from a manager/VP/C-level boss? That time the site was down for 24 hours due to a software bug that made it through your processes and testing systems? That one time the SLA was breached and there was no way you could pass the buck? Remember the time Knight Capital let a bug loose that cost it US$172,222 per second for 45 minutes straight?

Well, those scenarios pale in comparison to what it must be like to have the leader of the free world picking up the phone and screaming at the nearest accountable manager. And we feel very badly for the folks who are getting chewed out, because it’s probably not their fault. The front end isn’t the issue here, thanks to modern development practices, cloud hosting and a general competency in the development teams that worked on this.

The problem is that each inquiry into the HealthCare.gov site is also an inquiry into dozens or even hundreds of ancient, poorly maintained, ugly healthcare systems. Ask for an insurance quote, and you could very well be waiting for a VAX in some basement in Omaha to run an algorithm. Worse yet, you could be waiting on 20 internal systems running at a healthcare provider, none of which have any SLAs involved in the response time.

The HealthCare.gov fiasco is emblematic of digital sandbagging by the healthcare companies. And it’s not going to be fixed anytime soon. The sooner the Affordable Care Act’s January deadline comes and goes, the sooner healthcare companies can get back to making a profit on bureaucracy and confusion.

About SD Times Editorial Board