Health

So much for OpenGov: Quantcast traffic on HealthCare.gov ‘hidden by the owner’

Above: Current White House CTO Todd Park is focused on democratizing access to government data

Fixing HealthCare.gov

523412897_17465571 This story is part of our series on the "tech surge" to fix HealthCare.gov. Read the rest of the series.

The online health exchange is an ongoing source of political embarrassment for the White House, with millions of Americans still struggling to log in and, worse, receiving incorrect insurance information.

President Obama estimated Monday that nearly 20 million Americans have flooded the HealthCare.gov website since it launched three weeks ago. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and various technology advisors have said the website wasn’t ready for the glut of traffic it received, although the issues appear to be far more profound than that.

After receiving a tip from a producer at Fox Business, I attempted to search Quantcast, the site that lets consumers search for web traffic and stats, to uncover the precise volume of web traffic on HealthCare.gov.

The site was blank, with a notice stating that the “traffic data has been hidden” by the owner. This owner presumably refers to the Department of Health and Human Services, which issued the contracts for the online health exchange.

“With Quantcast, each publisher is able to control what data is publicly displayed,” a spokesperson for Quantcast told me. “The message you received about healthcare.gov is one you can find on other profiles across Quantcast Measure if the publisher has chosen to not display their data.”

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It’s not all that surprising, given all the negative attention around this site. However, it’s not in line with the government’s policies concerning open data. Current chief technology officer Todd Park has spoken out in the press about his ambition to create an open data health platform.

Alexander Howard, a writer who focuses on government technology and a Tow Fellow, said it’s not uncommon for the feds to opt out of sharing traffic data with the public.

But it’s a shame, as tech journalists are hungry for information: the top search terms, traffic numbers over time, and the volume of unique visitors for each of the health exchange sites.

“I’m not shocked, but it is unfortunate,” said Howard. “This is an area where a third party could confirm, deny, or correct the estimated number of people they say are using the site.”

VentureBeat reached out to the Department of Health and Human Services for comment. We’ll update this story if we learn more.

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