After 42 instances in which House Republicans voted to repeal, defund or otherwise undermine the Affordable Care Act -- culminating in a 16-day government shutdown -- it seemed the Obama administration could finally declare victory. There was just one problem: The $400-million enrollment system, HealthCare.gov, didn't work so well [sources: Cohen; Cohen Botelho and Yan; Dugan].
The downtime meant more than embarrassment; it represented a potential threat to Obamacare's economic foundation, which relies on enrollments to distribute risk and keep premiums down [sources: Pear, Lafraniere and Austen].
Adding insult to uninsured injury, three programmers threw together a more effective insurance Web site, HealthSherpa, in a matter of days. Although it lacks signup options and other HealthCare.gov services, many frustrated consumers have used it to narrow their options [sources: Bidgood; HealthCare.gov; HealthSherpa]. Meanwhile, scam Web sites continue to lure customers from legitimate state exchanges, and some hackers have published tools designed to bring down the site with distributed denial of service attacks, although the use and effectiveness of such measures remains unclear [source: Lovett].