Thursday, October 17, 2013

More Trouble with the Affordable Care Act

While the political community has been focusing on the shutdown, new details emerge about the troubled implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  At The Hill, Elise Viebeck reports:
Less than one percent of people who visited healthcare.gov in its first week actually enrolled for coverage under ObamaCare, according to a new analysis.

The consulting firm Kantar US Insights estimated that only about 36,000 people completed the enrollment process by Oct. 5, out of about 9.5 million unique visitors to the glitchy ObamaCare portal.

The analysis also found that traffic to healthcare.gov plummeted 88 percent between Oct. 1 and Oct. 13 as users encountered problems with the system.

The figures, if accurate, shed light on the site's rocky rollout and point to the daunting task facing federal health officials over the next six months as they try to convince millions to buy health plans.

Kantar, using data from nonpartisan research firm Millward Brown Digital, estimated that about 9.4 million visited the site during its first week.

Of that number, roughly one-third tried to register and one-third of that group — 1.01 million — completed the registration process.

Even fewer people were able to successfully log in (271,000) and enter the enrollment stage (196,000).
CBS reports:
The president now acknowledges the problems with HealthCare.gov are more serious than he initially led on. "The web site that was supposed to do this all in a seamless way has had way more glitches than I think are acceptable," Mr. Obama said Tuesday in an interview with KCCI-TV.

It was a different President Obama two weeks ago when he tried to compare the health care rollout to the launch of a new iPhone. He said on Oct. 1, 2013, "Within days, they found a glitch, so they fixed it. I don't remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads."

Except the problem with the web site is it hasn't been fixed. Even supporters, such as the president's former press secretary, Robert Gibbs, say someone should be fired. Gibbs didn't name names, but the head of the Republican Party is pointing straight to the top, calling on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to go.

Sebelius isn't talking -- at least not since her interview on "The Daily Show" last week went viral after she fumbled her way through it.

Asked host Jon Stewart how many have signed up thus far, Sebelius said, "Fully enrolled? I can't tell you because I don't know."
Michael Barone writes:
The first bombshell went off on Tuesday, from Ezra Klein of the Washington Post's Wonkblog.
Klein was one of those young writers who formed JournoList a few years ago so that like-minded Obama fans could coordinate their lines of argument. It was like one of those college sophomore clubs, not really necessary in an age of ready contact through email, but it shows him as a guy inclined to play team ball. 
So it’s noteworthy when he writes, “So far, the Affordable Care Act’s launch has been a failure. Not ‘troubled.’ Not ‘glitchy.’ A failure.”
Klein notes that the rollout of the Medicare prescription drug program was also rocky two weeks into the process. But later it got smoothed out.
Klein fears Obamacare won’t. It’s not just a problem of overloaded servers. Everyone knew there would be lots of traffic in a nation of 312,000,000 people. Information technology folks say it’s easy to add servers.
It’s harder to get software systems to communicate. And as Klein quotes insurance consultant Robert Laszewski, "the backroom connection between the insurance companies and the federal government is a disaster.”