Federal and state governments launched their web-based health insurance exchange (HIX) platforms last week on October 1st. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, mandated the creation of these exchanges. These exchanges present uninsured Americans with a variety of government-approved insurance plans and give them the chance to register for any of them online. With the insurance plans that they sell on these exchanges, insurance companies can’t refuse applications based upon preexisting conditions; they can’t set lifetime or annual limits on coverage; and they can’t ask patients to pay more than $6,350 in out-of-pocket costs per year. Individuals with an income level 133%-400% of the federal poverty line that purchase their insurance through the exchanges are also eligible for subsidies between $1,400 and $5,000 per year.
The launch went less-than-perfectly: many people reported being unable to access either the federal or state exchanges on the day they opened. At first, the federal government blamed the flawed rollout on higher-than-expected demand—though it only expected a total of seven million people to obtain health insurance through all 17 exchanges (16 state and one federal) during the October 2013-March 2014 open enrollment period, seven million people visited just the federal government’s exchange on its first two days alone. Later in the week, however, the government admitted that the inefficiency, inflexibility, and sloppiness of the exchanges’ underlying software were largely to blame for the outages. For example, a web designer interviewed by Reuters pointed out that just clicking “apply” on the HealthCare.gov site results in the transfer of “92 separate files, plug-ins, and other mammoth swarms of data” between the user’s device and the government’s servers, which has the same effect as the HealthCare.gov website mounting a DDoS attack on itself. In the end, despite all the traffic to the federal healthcare exchange, insurance companies were still reporting total enrollment numbers in the single digits three days after the launch.
The ACA exchanges, from an IT perspective, are a type of cloud computing in that they process, store, and deliver an application (health insurance registration software, in this case) via the Internet. Because anyone from the general public can access and utilize the exchanges, they can also be more narrowly defined as a particular type of cloud computing: public cloud computing. The botched rollout of the ACA exchanges reinforces what we have always argued on this blog:
1) that private cloud solutions perform better and are more reliable and secure than public cloud solutions;
2) that the performance, security, and reliability of any cloud solution depends on the knowledge, experience, and skill of the organization that builds and maintains it.
Private cloud solutions from IronOrbit (hosted IT infrastructures, hosted VDIs, managed servers, hosted desktops, etc.) perform better and are more secure and reliable than public cloud solutions because:
- They are maintained and protected 24x7x365 by our knowledgeable and experienced personnel. All of our IT solutions are continually monitored for signs of security breaches or outages; they’re also protected by advanced security measures such as Cisco firewalls, gateway antivirus, IPS/IDS, and content filtering. The substantial size of public cloud solutions prevents them from being as rigorously maintained or secured.
- We host them on dedicated servers. Public cloud deployments share a server with other public cloud deployments. Meanwhile, each IronOrbit solution gets its own dedicated server (or servers). Solutions hosted on dedicated servers are not only more secure—they’re also more powerful and reliable, because they can draw on at least a full server’s processing and storage resources at all times.
- Our solutions are customizable. Public cloud solutions are usually standardized and incapable of being customized. The storage capacity and supported number of users of our solutions can be customized to match businesses’ exact IT preferences and requirements. As a result, businesses get exactly what they want out of their IronOrbit solutions.
- Our solutions feature Atomic Speed Technology. Thanks to Atomic Speed Technology—our proprietary mixture of protocols, best practices, and technologies—our hosted solutions are more powerful, secure, and reliable than even locally-installed IT solutions.
Avoid the instability and slow performance of public cloud solutions like HealthCare.gov and sign up for IronOrbit private cloud solutions such as hosted IT infrastructures, managed servers, hosted desktops, and hosted VDIs today!