Innovative Tech, Glitches, and Instant Cyber Gratification

Problems with the software for health insurance offered through the Affordable Care Act have become an “Appegedon.” Millions of would-be enrollees have been unable to log in to the federal government portal or the Web sites of individual state exchanges. Ambitions for these sites are huge: to enroll millions of uninsured by Dec 15. So is the software on which they depend: the underlying code contains an estimated 500 million lines. Some five million lines may need to be rewritten to coordinate the separately designed databases and pieces of software from 55 contractors. We are so used to immediacy in all things tech that the slightest delay often causes online shoppers and readers to click away. The A.C.A. has made large promises. Its execution should be as effective as it is visionary.

John Howell, Editorial Director