Two months after the launch of the Obamacare federal online health insurance exchange, it still isn’t fixed. Let’s be clear about that. Team Tech Surge may well be “operating with private sector velocity and effectiveness,” but that is really, really beside the point — unless of course your goal merely is to buck up shaky liberals. From the WSJ:
Federal officials said they had largely succeeded in repairing parts of the site that had most snarled users in the two months since its troubled launch, but acknowledged they only had begun to make headway on the biggest underlying problems: the system’s ability to verify users’ identities and accurately transmit enrollment data to insurers.
It’s like that Seinfeld episode where a frustrated Jerry is dealing with a rental car agent: “See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.” Yes, selecting a plan on the site is important, but it’s all for nothing if the government can’t properly and accurately transmit enrollment data to insurers.
But there are also questions if the consumer access is really working so well. As Phil Klein explains:
For instance, an HHS chart – which Zients boasted about – shows system uptime now at 95.1 percent (excluding scheduled maintenance), which compares to 42.9 percent a month ago. But, the industry standard is for websites to be available for users 99.9 percent of the time. Anything below that is considered a failure and 95.1 percent is a disaster. …
A 95.1 percent uptime means that over the course of a year, a website would be down for about 18 days. Alternatively, imagine what a disaster it would be for sales if, during the holiday shopping season, Amazon’s website were down for about a day and a half, excluding scheduled maintenance.
Another goal that the administration had offered was to make it possible for 80 percent of those intending to sign up for insurance to get through the entire application process.
On the call, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid spokeswoman Julie Bataille was a bit vague about whether that goal had been met. … “Today, we’re now more in the zone of about 80 percent of users being able to do that same process successfully,” she said.
What does “in the zone of about” mean? Furthermore, she emphasized that not all Americans will feel comfortable signing up by the website, and could seek help by phone or in person. That suggests that the vague 80 percent number includes all forms of signing up for insurance, not just through the website.
And once again, comparing it to the private sector, imagine if one out of every five people trying to buy airplane tickets on Orbitz could not do so.
But, hey, that’s the private sector. Obamacare is working well enough — at least for government work. Or at least if your goal is the program’s survival until its 2nd birthday rather than meeting White House promises about health reform.