Today is the day of President Obama's self-imposed "deadline" for marked improvements in functionality for Healthcare.gov, a crucial cog in the Rube Goldberg machine of Obamacare. Don't be surprised if the Obama Administration's out there front and center with spin on how they've met their deadline.
Don't believe it.
The bureaucrats who answer to President Obama are the only people in the world who will be privy to the actual numbers. The public isn't going to know if the Obama Administration doesn't hit whatever target they think they're trying to hit. HHS this week said that "90% of users are able to create accounts," which is certainly... something, even if it's not that they can actually buy the insurance that President Obama is forcing them to buy.
The Obama Administration declared that their goals - which were never publicly specified - have been met. The most concrete goal we ever heard was that the "vast majority" of visitors to the Obamacare website Healthcare.gov would have a smooth experience. What that doesn't account for is the actual infrastructure problems that mean that users won't know if their application for insurance was actually processed properly.
Neither HHS' mission-accomplished report nor CMS' early-morning conference call actually addressed these problems.
But Zirkelbach says the "back end" of the site — the part where the policy actually gets bought and paid for — is still rough. "Health insurers are still seeing enrollments that are duplicated, missing information, things like that," he said.
And one big piece is missing: so-called direct enrollment. If that ever works as it should, people should be able to go directly to a health insurer's site and sign up with a small detour to HealthCare.gov to see if they are eligible for a subsidy. That function is barely working now.
Moreover, as Russ Britt reports:
“Applications are in limbo — many already initiated are stalled, lost or otherwise can’t be completed. Applicants eligible for subsidies must use the website, or [HealthCare.gov] paper alternatives that can’t handle the volume, but the system often can’t verify applicants’ eligibility for aid,” Morici writes. “Overall, the website still fails to complete the enrollment process for many who try.”
While this is a fake, self-imposed deadline, the real deadline is approaching. Americans who are being forced to buy insurance must obtain it by January 1 to keep with the Obama Administration's goal of continuous coverage.
The site might appear to be working better. But the infrastructure that underlies the site is still incredibly buggy, as John Dickerson reports:
Insurance company sources tell the National Journal that there is still about a 5 percent error rate in the information the site submits to insurance companies on behalf of those picking a new insurance plan. If the site is fixed but this problem is not, the problem could get worse. People would sign on, fill out the forms, and insurance companies would be flooded with bad data. That would delay insurance companies sending out bills, which is the necessary step required for a person to actually have insurance by Jan. 1. For those in the individual market who have coverage now, if they don’t sign up by that deadline, they will be exposed.
The administration says the problem—the so-called 834 forms—is at the top of the "punch list," but they have been saying that for months and aren’t saying how much progress has been made. If this glitch remains, people who believed they were on the verge of getting new coverage will wonder what's up.
Bugs. Glitches. Enrollment problems. Meet the new Healthcare.gov, same as the old one.