We are learning that the problems with HealthCare.gov, the website that is the portal to Obamacare health insurance, are not just due to the large number of people trying to sign on. It turns out that the website is symptomatic of government incompetence on an epic scale.
The site wasn’t even tested until the week before the scheduled launch. During the test, the site crashed with only a few hundred simultaneous log-ons, though the system was supposed to handle tens of thousands at a time. Despite the failure of the test, officials gave the go-ahead for launch anyway! (See this for details.)
Also, the complexity of the sign-up process, which has multiplied the chances for glitches, is due to a political decision. If you tried to get onto the site, you would notice (before your computer froze) that you couldn’t just click onto your state and see a list of policies and their costs. First you had to create an account, then sign in, then enter all kinds of detailed information about your place of employment, then give your income in IRS-level detail, whereupon your information had to be linked to the Social Security site for verification, and on and on, all before you could see any policies.
That is because the Obama administration didn’t want consumers to get sticker shock. To make the policies seem cheaper than they are, the process was designed to show the prices only after any government subsidies the applicant might qualify for would be factored in. (See this for the whole story.)
As Michael Gerson points out, these problems go beyond the technical glitches. The only way Obamacare can conceivably work is if lots of healthy people sign up for health insurance that they do not use. That would bring the costs down. But people who don’t really need it are probably going to be less patient about navigating through all of this cumbersome process (especially when it keeps crashing their computers).
And now, as if all this were not surreal enough, the Obama administration is considering doing something that it excoriated Republicans for so much as proposing: Delaying Obamacare!