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Editorial: A frustrating start to Affordable Care Act

Anyone who works in an office has experienced it: The boss promises a fancy computer upgrade that will make everyone’s life easier – and, come to find out, it leaves everyone angry and frustrated, taking too much time to do formerly simple tasks, spending endless hours with far-away “help” desks, never quite getting the help they need.

In an American workplace, that’s par for the course. But when the Obama administration flipped the switch on HealthCare.gov, we might have expected something different. And when it didn’t work as planned, we might have expected an immediate and forthright explanation.

By the time President Obama – once known for his shrewd use of technology – addressed the glitch-plagued rollout yesterday, he wasn’t telling the country much it didn’t already know: Three weeks into it, the online signup system for the Affordable Care Act doesn’t work.

In a story on yesterday’s front page, Monitor reporter Sarah Palermo recounted some of the frustrations experienced in New Hampshire: Some residents without insurance are using paper applications to circumvent the Obamacare website, hoping to find out whether they are eligible for subsidies and tax credits toward the cost of coverage – but have not yet received a response. Many who have tried to apply online have given up in frustration. “Navigators,” hired to help residents find their way through the system have created a two-step process for residents seeking help: learn about the program today, schedule an appointment for later to actually sign up.

The Washington Post reported problems that go deeper than the sign-up. Sometimes the website gives faulty information about the tax credits, for instance. Sometimes it tells wrongly tells poor people they’re ineligible for Medicaid. Insurance companies report getting inaccurate information about who has actually signed up – multiple enrollments and cancellation for the same person on the same day.

And from the New York Times, this grim assessment: Contractors believe they have identified most of the main technical problems, but the administration has been slow to order fixes and the system may still be weeks away from working correctly. If that’s the case, the government may need to rethink the March 31 deadline for Americans to sign up for insurance or face fines; the sooner officials face that reality, the better.

Indeed, only now is the administration publicly admitting what has been obvious to everyone else: The startup is, in fact, balky. High volume isn’t the only problem. And, most important, a quick fix is in order.

Had they not been so obsessed with defunding Obamacare, the Republicans who shut down the government earlier this month and threatened to default on the nation’s bills, might have spent the past three weeks actually making a compelling case that the new health law was not ready for prime time. Instead, they did nothing more than convince many Americans that the next election can’t come soon enough.

The Affordable Care Act still represents the best chance for millions of Americans to have what the rest of us take for granted: the financial security that comes with insurance, the ability to take preventive health-care measures that ward off more serious interventions, the knowledge that one dire diagnosis won’t mean bankruptcy.

The law, a compromise like everything produced by government, isn’t perfect. It doesn’t go as far as we’d have liked. And because the Supreme Court left it to states to decide whether to expand their Medicaid programs, Obamacare could end up providing health insurance for many middle-class citizens while leaving millions of poor people without assistance.

Here’s something the Obama administration probably doesn’t need to hear from us: Fix the system – and fast. As you do so, transparency is key. Admit what’s not working. Keep Americans in the loop. It’s not just politics. The health of millions of Americans depends on it.

Legacy Comments15

based on the quality of the Concord Monitor's new website one could surmise that they used the same company that created NObamaKare to produce this lousy product. This site can even count the number of comments posted

"addressed the glitch-plagued rollout yesterday"....The Titanic had a glitch-plagued maiden voyage...The Hindenburg had a glitch-plagued landing...Ted Kennedy had a glitch-plagued drive on Chappaquiddick Island.....Chernobyl still producing energy after glitch-plagued 1986 evening.

You know to equate those human disasters with a web site that is not working correctly is just how right wingers lose any sense of balance, and decide to shut down a country over people getting health care.

true stories to read: http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/10/21/the-definitive-guide-to-how-obamacare-is-destroying-american-lives/?awesm=freedo.mw_i0j%20%7F

My direct experience with software development tells me that it ALWAYS takes longer to develop and test an application than people think it will. Remember, this is not just a "website" per se, it's an online application, and a complicated one to boot. I suspect there is blame to be found in many places - from the vendor who underestimated how much time it would take, to the DHHS employees who probably delivered the requirements later than they should have. This is the way it happens, all the time, everywhere. I'm also wondering if the supreme court decision, which came quite late in the game, caused the development team to have to make last minute changes to the design. At any rate, like most software, this one WILL get straightened out, and the people will eventually be able to use it smoothly. But in the meantime, as the president rightfully points out, we should not be judging the product by the scuzzy storefront and non-functioning cash registers. Let the thing loose in the wild for a year before deciding whether it's a failure.

5 million code lines that need to be corrected will take quite a lot of time to fix. And because of those problems, I would guess that anybody who actually manages to get on, runs the risk of their info like ss numbers, bank account numbers etc, being open to hackers who steal identities. Hackers have a field day on sights that are poorly designed, makes their job a lot easier to get in if the sight is a mess. This is not a scuzzy storefront. You are trusting your info will not be hacked. This program will not go forward. It will be delayed. Everything in this administration is delayed because of their incompetence or what they want to hide with the hope it will be forgotten. Mark my words, the president will be making a speech soon stating that the website will be shutdown for a year to make sure it is running properly and is safe, and in the meantime you can call an 800 number, or have the info mailed.

NObama and the demonizing democrats said absolutely 100% NO to the offer from the Responsible Republicans to delay the start of ObamaKare .... anybody want to take bets that NObama and the democrats are going to "wag the dog" to distract the low information democrat voters that are turning on them in mass.

Perhaps it will be delayed. Time will tell. However, I still resist any implication that a bad website = a bad law. Imagine that iPads were only sold through one website, which people have difficulty accessing, and which may not keep your credit card info secure. That doesn't mean that the iPad is defective, and it doesn't mean that the Apple corporation itself is fundamentally flawed. Bottom line: The PPACA is not just the exchange website and should not be judged (good or bad) based only on the website.

We have plenty of websites that seem to do just fine with registering folks, keeping their info secure etc. EBay. Amazon, etc come to mind. Most folks have no clue what is in the ACA except for the 3 carrots they were told, kids can stay on till 26, cannot be refused if you have a prior condition and if you like your healthcare you have now you can keep it. Also something about it being cheaper. Now what they did not tell you. Business Insurance plans that are deemed Cadillac or too good will be taxed. There are 165 taxes in the ACA, for things like medical devices you use at home, and taxes on businesses that produce medical equipment. Didn't hear about any of those right. Business is putting a lot of their workers on part time and dropping spousal and family coverage for their employees. And they are outsourcing a lot of their work to independent contractors for their jobs. Hiring temps when they have an order to fill. Yeah it is all about the website. NOT!

Rabbit E-bay and Amazon did not have a million people on opening day trying to buy or sell something. It took time for them to scale up to that kind of volume and they experianced difficulties on the way to doing that.

The collapse of ObamaKare will have nothing to do with the democrats amatuer web site. What will collapse ObamaKare is the economics of the really really bad 100% democrat legislation.....Premium Sticker shock , skyrocketing deductibles, and co-pays are hitting everyone . This has already made a lot of people very angry, and they have decided not to subject themselves to the highway robbery of the new rates and have refused to get covered and instead pay the TAX. The younger, healthier workers have already decided in mass that it makes much more sense for them to pay the tax than buy a plan on the exchange ......Obamacare falls apart because the revenue from the TAX will in no way cover Obamacare’s expenses. They need these people to pay much more than they should for the system to have any chance to work. It’s all about wealth transference....and it is NOT NOT NOT happening

Actually the "wealth transference" has been going on for 30 years. Look at the facts, the rich have gotten richer and the middle class and poor have gotten poorer. Facts show it has been a transfer of wealth "upward". .... As far as Obamacare, possibly those getting the insurance should pay more but it is at least forcing them to start paying something now. Or is it better to just let them have it for free at the emergency room and the government pays 100% of the bill - that sounds a little like the "S" word.

"Wealth tranference"......no such thing. Money is fluid. You paint a picture of a banker in a mansion sitting atop of millions of dollar saying: "mine, mine, mine" and hoarding it. Let's be honest, if you don't provide a service, product or value in what you do to earn a salary then you make less and your wealth stays the same or goes "downward". The emergency room cost is a "myth" as Obamacare will cost everyone more than what is being spent in the emergency rooms now. Otherwise everyone's premiums in 45 states would not be going up. All Obamacare does is level the services so that those who have paid their way and are accustomed to a certain level of coverage will now get much less and pay more so that someone else can have the same coverage. I am not my brothers keeper, I have empathy for those who struggle to get insurance and have to use the emergency room but they have the emergency room, charitable programs like Concord Hospital giving millions in free care for the needy. That is a better option.

I found the breakdown of the often quoted 43 million without insurance very interesting. Those numbers were based on a 2007 census bureau report. Blue Cross and Blue Shield did their own survey. According to the census report, 14 million actually qualify for Medicaid or other govt programs but have never applied. Wonder who they are and why they have not applied. 9.7 million are non us citizens. I thought at some point your green card runs out. 18.3 million are under the age of 34. Many young folks feel they are healthy and do not need insurance. 8.2 million are too poor to buy insurance but do not qualify for govt assistance. The numbers are interesting. The Blue Cross survey found that many who are between jobs might not have insurance for a few months and at the time of the survey they were counted as being uninsured. The numbers do not make exemptions about being temporary uninsured. Interesting stats.

How much did it cost....and how much to fix it???? You'd think the 4th estate would be more curious to find this out than..me. So far...no one but me has asked the question.

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