June 9 2014
Healthcare.gov Gets a Make-over
Patrice J. Lee
The Obama Administration is revamping healthcare.gov in advance of the next open enrollment period this fall. Last October 1, the federal website launched and immediately crashed remaining broken for weeks.
While inept government agencies and contractors finger pointed, Americans kicked off of their healthcare insurance plans stood in limbo looking for hope on the website. It took Silicon Valley heavyweights parachuting in and working 80-hour weeks merely to get the website operational.
Now, it appears that the Administration will give the front-end of the website a makeover while the back-end remains behind schedule. If you’re scratching your head, so am I.
The problem when healthcare.gov first launched was not that it was unattractive. It had navigation problems –when it actually worked- but the real issues such as verifying income and immigration status or transferring enrollment data to participating insurance companies are unseen by Americans. These are issues that cost taxpayers as we end up overpaying subsidies to enrollees.
According to tech website Wired, key upgrades include a simpler interface for a majority of users, a better comparison tool, and a new login system. The focus is on making it easier for applicants to connect with insurance plans. They predict it will work better and be ready for fall, but all of the other work needed is nowhere near ready for primetime.
The Daily Caller reports:
The federal government is hoping to get the website working for customers in time for the next open enrollment period, which has been delayed a month until Nov. 15, hoping to avoid another breakdown akin to the Obamacare exchange’s initial launch last fall.
The administration will redo coverage applications which most customers will use and a comparison tool for health plans, according to slides from a May 20 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services meeting with, insurance companies, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The administration is also replacing the software that allows customers to create accounts and to log in to the website, called EIDM, which was plagued with serious technical issues during HealthCare.gov’s initial launch last fall. Contractors are most worried about this part of the revamp.
“My opinion, no way they can do that before the next open enrollment,” one senior official at a government contractor told the Wall Street Journal. “Tune and tweak? Yes. Replace? No way.”
What a vote of confidence!
We reported last week that one in four ObamaCare sign-ups so far likely have discrepancies on income and immigration status. The important functionalities that ensure applicants are truly qualified for taxpayer subsidies have yet to be built and aren’t even a priority. That tells us what the Administration really thinks is important.
Giving healthcare.gov a makeover is just window dressing for a broken technical system and a fundamentally flawed healthcare insurance system. Even if the website worked perfectly – which we’ll likely never see in our lifetimes – it doesn’t cover up the way that our national healthcare system and economy has been and continues to be impacted by the President’s signature healthcare law.
President Obama made big promises about insuring the uninsured, driving healthcare costs down, and improving our overall healthcare system. His plan has failed to deliver on all of those fronts as we’ve reported.
What ObamaCare has delivered has been more misery and a more uncertain future for many people across our nation: workers who have had their hours reduced, students whose bare-bones healthcare plans were eliminated, families facing higher premiums, and businesses choosing whether to hire new workers or cut healthcare offerings entirely and pay the penalty. These are the real life implications of ObamaCare.