IT Company Finds Federal Insurance Marketplace Lags Behind Industry Standards

Bloomberg BNA's Health IT Law & Industry Report brings you concise, comprehensive, and timely news and analysis of the regulatory, legal, and compliance issues surrounding our nation’s...

By Alex Ruoff  

Oct. 22 --Compuware, a Detroit-based information technology company, Oct. 22 released a series of unsolicited recommendations for improving the performance of, the website for the federal health insurance marketplace.

A team of software engineers at Compuware analyzed the federal health insurance website and found it performed poorly compared to private and state-run health insurance exchanges and performed worst for users in western and midwestern states.

The report concluded there was little or no external pre-testing before the site went live Oct. 1 and that the website lags behind health-care industry benchmarks for technology performance.

“As with any new website that has been anticipated by a lot of people, it was not a big surprise there were glitches when millions of U.S. citizens tried to use the new portal after its launch,” Andreas Grabner, a technology strategist at Compuware, said on the company's blog. “Now--there are many different reasons why websites that need to scale for that many users don't deliver on the promise of good end user experience. A general cultural problem is that performance and scalability are pushed towards the end in favor of more functionality resulting in problems that don't allow the end user to consume these great features.”

Grabner said the website “is not optimized properly” and needs to be redesigned.

The federal marketplace as well as 16 state-run insurance marketplaces came online Oct. 1. Consumers have been complaining since the federal marketplace premiered that it is slow and often unresponsive.

On Oct. 20, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it had redesigned the marketplace website and expanded staffing at its call centers to handle increased traffic.


Compuware offered four broad recommendations for improving

• Conduct load tests in all geographic regions as page load times degrade the farther the distance from the server.

• Conduct deep-dive transactional testing, because many of the website's problems involve aborted transactions by users.

• Demand higher third-party performance levels.

• Pre-test as new site features are added because pretesting will provide engineers with an understanding of the site's weaknesses.


To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ruoff in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kendra Casey Plank at

The analysis and recommendations are at