Much is riding on Healthcare.gov overhaul
By LYNN SWEET Washington Bureau Chief December 1, 2013 10:46PM
Obama Speaks On The Affordable Care Act In White House Briefing Room
Updated: January 3, 2014 6:21AM
The Obama team declared Sunday it met its self-imposed deadline to get HealthCare.gov running, along with a warning that there is still more work to be done on the website. We’ll know soon if the repair claim is credible — if people actually can enroll and purchase a health insurance policy.
It’s been two months since the botched Obamacare rollout. The Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday issued a progress report that at the surface seemed candid in describing the problems leading to the non-function of the website most of the time. If you are looking for specific folks to blame, you will be disappointed: The report steered clear of naming names.
By now it is clear how bad the bad is when it comes to non-performance.
Here’s a key passage in the eight-page report: “For some weeks in the month of October, the site was down an estimated 60 percent of the time. The assessment determined the root causes for these site flaws to be hundreds of software bugs, insufficient hardware and infrastructure. The system monitoring and response mechanisms were not sufficient for identifying issues or bugs or responding to them in real time. Inadequate management oversight and coordination among technical teams prevented real-time decision making and efficient responses to address the issues with the site.”
On top of that — and the report does not get into it — was how the Obama policy, politics and PR teams did not realize the impact of people finding out they could not renew their individual health insurance policies, compounded because folks could not go to HealthCare.gov to shop around and see their alternatives.
President Barack Obama, faced with a political uprising — including from Democrats nervous about 2014 election contests — ended up pushing states to ask insurance companies to continue to sell for a year the policies they had been taking off the shelves because they did not meet the new Obamacare standards. That made a new mess on top of the HealthCare.gov mess.
The Obama team deserves all the criticism its been getting these past two months for its ineptness. Go ahead and kick ’em
Now, having said that, I have another message.
Let’s see now if the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — will work. Give it a chance.
We know that for some people and employers, health care will become more expensive under Obamacare. Obama never should have said nothing will change under his signature health care law because the intent was to flush the system of lousy health insurance policies.
I’ve been back home to Chicago from Washington, D.C., the past few days for Thanksgiving and in hanging out with longtime friends and relatives, I see how Obamacare is working out for some people.
A longtime pal with a kid who has a serious kidney ailment had a weight lifted off of her knowing her son will be able to buy health insurance and not be disqualified from obtaining affordable coverage because of his pre-existing condition.
A couple I have known for years — the wife has a pre-existing condition — got one of those scary non-renewal notices. But with HealthCare.gov working, they were able to do their research and are on the way to buying a policy for $900 a month, down from the $1,200 monthly they were paying.
I know it takes time to navigate through the Obamacare system and make choices. But please consider this: Even if Obamacare never existed, it would take time and effort to shop around — on the web and on the phone — for an individual health insurance policy. No matter your politics, dealing with health insurance is often a difficult, time-consuming part of life.
“We believe we have met the goal of having a system that will work smoothly for the vast majority of users,” the report concluded. There’s a lot of wiggle room in that statement. Let’s see what the numbers show.