One week ago, the federally-run website www.healthcare.gov launched as the online home of the Obamacare state exchanges. The results were less than auspicious, so much so that the Secretary of the Treasury either didn’t know or didn’t want to say how few people actually signed up of the millions who tried to. The government also shut down part of the website only days after it launched to fix glitches, and a tiny percentage of those who have tried to sign up have actually signed up for coverage starting January 1, 2014.
All of this is being ignored by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who this morning wrote a series of excuses for the Administration in USA TODAY. Naturally, she claims most of the problems are fixed:
Of course, nobody wants Americans to have to wait to sign up. Engineers are working day and night to make upgrades. We’re adding more servers to enable the system to handle larger loads. And we’re upgrading our software as well to make the system more efficient and enable it to handle higher volumes.
This work is delivering results. Wait times on HealthCare.gov are now 50% shorter, and more people are enrolling in affordable coverage.
At the same time, we have been upgrading the capacity at our 24/7 call center (800-318-2596). And consumers are finding that their calls are being answered quickly.
In the private sector, high numbers of visitors are often anticipated for major roll-outs. Sebelius claims the government was surprised at how many people tried to sign up for insurance, which should be disturbing to anyone who thinks any Administration is capable of effectively running such a large and complex law. Obamacare was touted as a way to insure 15% of the nation – about 45 million people. Why didn’t The Administration prepare for a rollout on the same scale?
To quote Megan McArdle:
Essentially [the Administration] spent a week arguing that no one could have predicted that, in a country of 300 million people, 2.4 percent of those people might stop by sometime in the first seven days to check out the administration’s signature legislative achievement.
Setting up a website is the easy part of the exchange – it can be done by any major company. The hard part is preventing fraud, which the Administration isn’t even trying to do until 2015. Another difficult task is making sure insurance is affordable, which the Administration isn’t producing, either. Let’s not even talk about making sure the law follows the Constitution – a basic task the President swears he will do.
Healthcare.gov was sold as the next generation of health insurance to the American people. The many problems in the first week of existence highlights its broken promises and no cheerleading op-ed can change that.