Obamacare “Glitches” Much Worse Than Administration Characterizes

October 11, 2013

Nearly Two Weeks Into Open Enrollment and Health Law’s Website Still a “Mess”

The health law’s second week has created just as many headaches as the first week. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Outside technology experts and people close to the situation say the first week and a half of exchange operations has revealed a half-finished product. …The problem might have been largely averted if consumers had been able to browse plans without going through the complex registration process first, experts say.” Unfortunately the administration chose not to allow that. The WSJ explained, “Federal officials had debated internally whether to allow users to view plans without applying, according to people familiar with the process. An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.”

This decision has led to a disastrous rollout. MSNBC reports that at a Miami clinic, just one of 260 applicants was successful, adding, “so far the White House isn’t saying how many people have managed to enroll, but industry sources tell NBC News the numbers could be embarrassingly low.” Energy and Commerce Committee leaders this week pressed the administration for enrollment figures. Russ Reeder, an independent website designer for major corporations, told CNN, “Just from the highest level, looking at the code on the website, it was to be honest with you, it was pretty sloppy. … It was just inefficient.”

Those inefficiencies have made it nearly impossible to successfully complete the application or even create an account on the Federally Facilitated Marketplaces (FFM). Nine days into open enrollment, a Fox News reporter “tried and tried and tried… and tried” to create an account on the FFM, but could not even complete step one. Luke Chung, the president of a database company in Virginia, tells Fox News, “It’s written as if it were created by people who had never created a database web application before.” Yesterday, committee leaders sent letters to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Quality Software Services, Inc. (QSSI) Chairman Tony Singh, and CGI President and CEO Michael Roach regarding the “glitches” that have defined the start of open enrollment in the FFM. Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) expressed concern that “top officials and lead IT contractors looked us in the eye and assured us all systems were a go.”

As The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein puts it, “They have done a terrible job launching this law. … It isn’t just a glitchy site. To a first approximation, basically nobody is capable of signing up for affordable health care right now or just any health insurance, affordable or not. That is not okay.”

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