TODAY   |  October 22, 2013

How to navigate the Obamacare website

NBC News’ Tom Costello steps you through the intricacies of the Affordable Care Act’s website, which has received criticism from Republican leaders and tech experts.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this morning for the first time we're hearing from the programmers that built that website and they say they saw red flags . tom costello has that part of the story. good morning to you.

>> reporter: hi, savannah. the white house isn't saying what the problems are. even project developers doubted that the website could be ready in time and for months they complained about unrealistic deadlines. we also heard it reteoutinely crashed. when big companies want to roll out new software, they usually do beta test where they put it out there but warn there will probably be problems. it usually lasts months and sometimes a year or longer but health care .gov went live with only a few days of beta testing . this website is challenging because it involves 36 states and linking and confirming data with other agencies like the irs, medicare, and credit bureaus . all we have are outside estimates but for one estimate they may need to rewrite 5 million lines of software code , savannah.

>> which raises the question, tom, how long this fix may take.

>> that's anyone's guess right now. try to put this into perspective and the big picture here. to give you a sense of how big this job is, imagine that you had all the possible variations for someone who wants to sign up for insurance. age, sex, marital status, income, kids, what state and county you live in, the types of insurance coverage you're interested in. all of those different questions and answers lead down different path ways and portals. it's like a huge tree that gets more and more complex. the problem is that the clock, as peter mentioned, is ticking because you have until the end of march in order to get the system up and running. they want to have 7 million people signed up by the end of march. right now, it's a real question as to whether they can do that. there's one factoid that you and i shared this morning that is interesting. apple spent about $150 million to roll out the iphone, the first one. they already spent $400 million on thiswebsite.

>> perhaps they'll have to spend more to fix it. tom costello thank you for the