Affordable Care Act / America / Healthcare

What the Obamacare Exchanges Could Have Learned From the Failed Launch of Diablo 3 Last Year.

“Error 37: The servers are busy. Please try again later.” This simple error was the source of much grievance for hundreds of thousands of gamers last year when Diablo 3 was first released. After waiting years for the third installment in the massively successful role playing franchise, the servers could not handle all of the 3.5 million gamers who bought the game within 24 hours of its release and the 4.7 million total gamers poised to play the first day.

The failure of the Diablo 3 server in accommodating the millions of gamers is very much the same predicament some of the Obamacare exchanges found themselves upon launch day. Sixteen states decided to run their own exchange, while the remaining thirty-four decided to allow the federal government to take charge. My irritating experience is with the state-based exchange: NY State of Health, the official health plan marketplace of New York.  Unfortunately, this experience is no different than the frustrating one I had with Diablo 3 just last year. Even the excuses sounded the same. The NY State of Health’s website stated that the two million visitors they had in the first two hours of launch caused log in issues. Yes, that certainly explains the blank white screen that I found myself staring at with its inky black “SRVE0232E Internal Error”. For the many uninsured who have been eagerly awaiting the day they could obtain health insurance, they will have to wait just a bit more for the exchanges to clear up. Unfortunately, this will be very much like the waiting game many gamers had to endure while Diablo 3 went through updates to solve their overloaded server issues.

Maybe, if those behind developing the exchange websites were gamers, they would have realized that perhaps opening up the enrollment/log in process for everyone all at once without testing the site beforehand is not a good idea. If they were not going to make a system that could handle the massive traffic, then perhaps it would have been prudent to open the exchanges at different times for different places. While I certainly understand the fairness principle behind everyone having access at the same time, at least for me, it is certainly not worth the annoying errors that ruin the experience for many. Furthermore, I really don’t think the Obama administration wants to hear the complaints nor the jeers about the clearly unprepared exchange websites, especially in the middle of government shutdown.

Some have hypothesized that the New York exchange website may have been subject to DDoS attacks, another method that certain individuals use in games to ensure gamers are unable to log into a particular game or server. The attack is essentially just some hackers overloading a certain server to the point that it has a reduction or complete loss of ability to function normally. The New York Exchange could have benefitted greatly from extensive measures put into place to protect against DDoS attacks from those who oppose Obamacare or those who simply enjoy causing frustration. Of course, proper defense against a possible DDoS attack could have been another lesson learned from the online video game world.

Ultimately, it was the responsibility of the individuals behind the New York State health exchange’s website to ensure that the process would run smoothly. Not only was it going to be the first introduction that Americans had to Obamacare, it was going to allow many citizens to finally become insured. The failed launch could have been avoided if they took the necessary measures to protect against the overloading of the website’s server as well as potential DDoS attacks.