The Obamacare website fiasco

We are blessed to have some of the brightest and talented computer programmers living here in the United States. Sometimes, I simply marvel at how they can create programs to do just about anything. The next time you log onto Amazon.com, think about all the effort and time that was put into that website by a bunch of brilliant programmers so that you can do your Christmas shopping in the comforts of your home. The same holds true for many other services such as auto, home and health insurance. I love the fact that you can compare rates and shop on a fairly secure site. So why in the world is it so hard to create a Federal exchange website for health insurance? There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for what is going on and this fiasco just goes to show you how incompetent the government is in handling issues that the private sector can do so much more efficiently and with far less the cost.

Of course, the White House is trying to shift the blame to the contractors who built this site but I am not buying their line of crap. As with any new software, you should do many rounds of testing before the thing goes live to make sure all the bugs and glitches are worked out. Any programmer can tell you that this can take some time before all the wrinkles are taken care of. You would figure that a website this important would be built and tested by some of the best programmers in the world but apparently the testing was done by some government official who obviously was not up to the task. Why this testing was not done by somebody in the private industry who actually knows what they are doing is completely stupid!! The federal government had 3 years and 634 million dollars to develop a top-notch site and so far, they have failed miserably!!

So who is being held accountable for this mess? Imagine if this happened in the private sector? Suppose a new website similar to Amazon.com was about to launch just before Christmas, let’s say on Cyber Monday. The site is going to offer special internet deals on electronics such as smart phones, cameras and flat screen televisions. People are all excited about this new site and it is one of the hottest things trending on the internet. The big day arrives and the site runs into major problems with its server. Imagine the scene at company headquarters? I can guarantee you that there would be a ton of pink slips handed out that day starting at the top. The same fate should happen to those officials in the government who are responsible for this mess. I don’t know what role the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius has in this but she deserves a ton of heat. Don’t these people monitor the progress of the website development? These people need to be held accountable for this nightmare. I find it very hard to believe that President Obama did not know what was going on. Somebody had to know about these problems and reported back to the president.  Why the decision was made to go ahead and make the website live is very puzzling and stupid. Of course, the law was rushed through so I guess the website has to be pushed through quickly as well.

One of the things that would really concern me about buying insurance online in this federal exchange or any state exchange is the security of your personal information. If the site has so many glitches and problems, does anybody have any confidence that their personal information will be kept secure? I am betting that many hackers are drooling at the prospect of getting into people’s personal information and stealing personal identities. I would be very concerned about buying something on a website that has so many problems and bugs. The security cannot be very strong on these sites and will amount to a hackers goldmine.

If the Obama administration had any common sense, they would delay this new law by at least a year. It is extremely foolish to rush through and try to implement a law so important as this one. The website problems are just the beginning of numerous problems and issues with the new health law. There is a huge cliff at the end of the railroad tracks and the Obamacare express train is headed in that direction.

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2 thoughts on “The Obamacare website fiasco

  1. I can certainly understand your feeling irritated that the healthcare.gov web site doesn’t work as well as Amazon, Mark. However, I tried buying repeatedly from Amazon online in the mid-90s when it began, and it too was a total nightmare. Shipping mix-ups, wrong products received, subcontracted vendors who would bait-and-switch you, and Amazon wouldn’t refund the money. It took about FIVE YEARS to fix.

    I’m not at all surprised this system has bugs, and I expect it to take time to sort out. To some degree I think you are conflating two separate things. The goal of the law is to provide health care insurance to people who couldn’t get it before, not to build an awesome web site. The signup process needs to be easier and faster of course. But the more important thing is the insurance plans.

    There are problems with the law for many reasons. The public option that would have provided the largest cost savings got stripped out. The expansion of Medicaid is voluntary for each state (dumb). The law was crafted with an assumption that the majority of states would step up and design their own exchanges, tailored to the needs of their residents. Instead, 36 states said “Nuh-uh, YOU do it for us.” Some of those states banked on the assumption that the law would be killed before implementation, and they either sat on their asses or worked to try and kill it – and lost the bet. The biggest obstacle is that the law is trying to address a huge, costly, complex problem. How long did it take for Social Security and Medicare to be settled? Decades? They are STILL tweaking them.

    People in different states are getting vastly different results, and I don’t know enough about why to form a qualified argument. But facts are facts. In MY state (WA) where we proactively built and tested our own health care exchanges, the web site only went down for 4 1/2 hours the first day, nearly 40 thousand have completed enrollment, and our rates are going down between 12-20% depending on plan. The results are more dramatically positive in New York, and even in red state Kentucky, where they not only did their own exchanges but also wisely made a simpler, more streamlined web site.

    So if I have to take a stand, I guess I would urge you to work toward getting your state to step up and make this law work in favor of your local residents. You’re going to be stuck with it for awhile.

  2. Yes,unfortunately we will be stuck for it for awhile. Sure you pointed out some isolated cases where the law might work and for how long will be unknown. But in 45 out of 50 states, the average premium will go up for people and millions are losing their coverage because it does not fit the requirements of the new law. The overall success of the law will really be determined in the next 3 years. If the number of young, healthy adults that sign up fails to meet a certain number, the law will simply not work. The sad truth is that this is the age group hardest hit by the premium increases. Many young people may just opt to pay the fine instead. Personally, I strongly believe they should delay the individual mandate for at least a year to give people more time to sign up as well as fix some of the bugs and glitches.

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