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We’re from Obamacare, and we’re here to help

We’re from Obamacare, and we’re here to help

Obamacare website problems part lack of planning, part Obamacare itself.

One week into its launch, the Obamacare website continues to struggle with glitches, even after some weekend downtime that was supposed to start addressing some of those issues.

Information technology experts have been skeptical of the administration’s claims that all of the technical issues have been due solely to unexpected overwhelming demand.

As I mentioned in that prior post, many have remarked that at the very least, the issues have revealed a lack of planning if volume truly caught the administration so off guard.

healthcare-gov-login-error

The Washington Post reported today that many remain locked out of the federal health-care website, including health insurance companies.

Health insurance companies also are continuing to have trouble accessing the parts of the federal Web site on which they need to rely to find out who has enrolled in their health plans and to get payment information. A few days into the launch, one major Blue Cross plan said the part of the Web site used by insurers “was unresponsive most of the day.” And even the Web site that was continuing to run tests on the system’s ability to convey enrollment and payment information to health plans was only “periodically available,” according to an insurance industry executive.

In the week since the federal exchanged launched, would-be customers have not been the only ones frustrated by the computer systems on which it relies.

Some insurance brokers have been stymied in getting authorization from the federal government to sell the health plans available through the exchange. “Agents are having just as much trouble accessing the online sites as consumers are,” said Kathryn Gaglione, a spokesperson for the National Association of Health Underwriters.

That might explain, in part, why the administration can’t give any official numbers on successful enrollments overall.  But good luck getting any straight-forward answers from the administration.  Even The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart couldn’t get any straight talk from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on his show last night.

Yesterday, the NY Times reported that the health exchange delays were tied to a software crash in the early rush, offering the first glimpse of additional technical details from officials on the project.

But there were a few paragraphs near the end of that article that particularly caught my attention.

As the engineers for the contractors struggle to recover from the Web site’s failures, officials said, the partial shutdown of the federal government is also hampering efforts to carry out Mr. Obama’s health care law and has slowed work on a federal insurance marketplace for residents of more than 30 states.

All insurers participating in the federal exchange have been assigned an account manager, who serves as the primary point of contact with the exchange. The account manager is supposed to assist insurers, clarifying their responsibilities and answering questions about the federal Web site, enrollment transactions and other operational matters.

But many of the account managers have been furloughed in the shutdown.

The Obama administration has drafted a manual describing operations of the federal exchange, including the enrollment process. But federal officials said the shutdown had delayed a final review of the manual by lawyers and other federal employees who have been furloughed.

Healthcare-gov-notice

The Affordable Care Act was passed over three years ago.  The federal government has known since then that launch day would arrive.  With any system of this magnitude and so many cooperating resources, documentation is typically a major component of the launch preparation.  You make plans for how to handle certain situations in the instance employees or capabilities – online or offline – become unavailable, among other things.  And in most of these types of projects, participating stakeholders do review and sign off on such documentation – that can include anyone and everyone from legal counsel, customer service managers, IT managers, sales/account managers, partners and suppliers, marketing, and more.  That’s all a process that’s done well in advance, before a system launches.  In most company launches of this magnitude, no approved final documentation, no launch.

I will grant insurers and even the administration that the unavailability of account managers due to the furloughs might hinder the process some.  But how is it that review of “a manual describing operations of the federal exchange, including the enrollment process,” has been delayed by the shutdown?  Why was such documentation not already approved and disseminated long before now?

The Washington Post article mentions that the federal government didn’t definitively know until earlier this year that it would be operating the exchanges for as many as 36 states.  So I will even take that into consideration.  Maybe the administration didn’t have a full three years to know exactly what to plan for.  But weeks before the launch, one would expect that such documentation would have been complete.  That being the case, then why launch without enough time to have such documentation approved and disseminated?

As the NY Times wrote, “outside experts said that White House officials should have spent more time tending to the computer code and technology of the Web site, rather than recruiting Hollywood celebrities to promote it.”  Those experts may be right.  I’d add reviewing documentation of the processes to that equation.

To blame the lack of such documentation on the shutdown just seems unacceptable.  The fact that the administration has blamed all of the Obamacare website’s technical glitches on overwhelming demand beyond their expectations has already revealed a woeful lack of planning on their part, if that’s even the sole reason (I remain skeptical).  That approved documentation of an operations manual has been delayed by the shutdown only further emphasizes that lack of planning.

If the government hasn’t been able to adequately plan for the launch of the Obamacare website, I shudder to think what else we don’t know about yet that hasn’t received the necessary attention in planning.

And yes, my own account still remains stuck in Zombieland.

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Comments

legacyrepublican | October 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I just realized, they are using the same software company that makes sure ballots get to soldiers so they can have their precious votes counted.

    I have long believed that US service members serving abroad (or at sea) are probably the largest group of citizens systematically disenfranchised in this country.

When I glanced at your maze image, I thought to myself, “so the government has developed an ObamaCare app to speed processing and there is the QR (Quick Response) code symbol.”

Duh!

It’s not a reason or an explanation, but the military has a “word” for describing PPACA (I refuse to call it [That guy’s name]care. To put it simply, PPACA is a clusterf***k.

Even if we can’t protect the economy and ourselves by stopping it now, we can take heart in the fact that the people running this monster will be about as effective as a circular firing squad.

    DriveBy in reply to ZooMaster. | October 8, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    SNAFU – situation normal, all fckd up
    TARFU – things are really fckd up
    BOHICA – bend over, here it comes again

    But the one that fits, IMHO, is FUBAR – fckd up beyond all recognition/repair/reason. That is what Ocare was yesterday, is today, and will be in every tomorrow.

    Where is my $2,500.00 in healthcare savings? Send me a check. I want it now before O succeeds in bankrupting this country! Hang in there John Boehner.

WELL, one of the reasons they don’t have enough people running the exchanges is that they take their training ONLINE which has….you guessed it. Also been down, at least in Toledo. We wrote about it here:

Obamacare online training’s down too http://j.mp/16t5Luu

It seems to me, O’s statements about the “unanticipated volume” seem to just be repeating The Narrative.

It’s probably not the volume. He probably doesn’t know the answer, and wouldn’t understand it if he did.

But The Narrative is that PPACA is necessary and is supported and wanted by an overwhelming majority of Americans. If it doesn’t work, that must be the reason why: Too many eager subscribers flooding the service.

[sarcasm] It can’t possibly be because it’s (literally) a technically-flawed system implementing an equally flawed law, both of which were thrown together last-minute without proper planning, documentation, and/or testing. No way! [/sarcasm]

Also note how tight-lipped they are about how many people have successfully completed the subscription process. There’s no way they can’t/don’t know that number, but it’s very likely that it goes against The Narrative. So the solution is to lie about it and claim technical issues stemming from unanticipated demand.

It’s the perfect CYA excuse!

Conservative Beaner | October 8, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Sebelius, Lew and the rest of the administration talk about all the hits they are getting. I wonder about the following;

How many are repeat hits because they were kick off due to a glitch.

How many are repeat hits because they were kick off before they could complete their registration.

How many are repeat hits because they tried to sign on using their password which did not work.

How many folks logged on only to find out how bad they were getting boned with the new health care plans.

Three and half years to create, test and impliment software before folks had to sign up. Wait until you make a insurance claim and get the same “glitches”.

The Obamacare website can’t be that tough to navigate, because I solved the puzzle in three seconds…by going down either side… I must have been given a waiver…

NC Mountain Girl | October 8, 2013 at 8:58 pm

The USA Today editorial pointed out the Bush administration designed its medicare prescription drug site to have around 8 times the capacity of the anticipated peak of simultaneous users. The Obamacare site was designed for about 1/5 of what peak traffic turned out to be. USA Today’s conclusion:

That’s the difference between competence and incompetence.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/10/07/health-care-insurance-exchanges-obamacare-editorials-debates/2940207/

We may be reaching the tipping point at which that set of liberals who are also competent professionals in their field will no longer be willing to excuse Obama’s obvious incompetence. It is starting to reflect badly upon their judgment and they know it.

    Radegunda in reply to NC Mountain Girl. | October 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    How can that be? Didn’t Sir Paul tell us that Bush doesn’t even know what a library is?

    The TRUTH is that Sebelius and crew dragged their feet making all the decisions – the Programmers got the specks 12 MONTHS LATE. That is why this is not ready for primetime.

    The entire User Interface needs to be rewritten. And, there are now questions about the backend data model because data entered on the screen is ‘leaking’ out somewhere and not getting into the data base.

    These sites will NOT be ready this year.

Here’s something else they didn’t plan for: an adequate supply of doctors and nurses to provide the actual “care” part of “health care.”

Ah, but it never really was about “care,” or about “health,” was it? I’ve heard they’re replacing RNs with LPNs who will be unionized in SEIU — all for the sake of providing better care, I’m sure. Whenever nurses go on strike, they insist that it’s “for the patients,” just as it’s “for the children” whenever teachers go on strike.

At least the UAW and the Boeing machinists don’t claim it’s for someone else’s benefit when they strike.

    Baker in reply to Radegunda. | October 8, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    You are certanly right about one thing. Many medical processes/procedures will be shifted down at least one level of competence. Some formerly MD only procedures will be shifted to PA’s and RN’s. Former RN only procedures will shift to LPNs. And on and on down the chain until it gets where janitors will be doing the jobs of orderlies.

I used to draw mazes in grade school. Pages. Just to see if I could draw one I couldn’t find my way out of.

Wierd, I know.

There is a reason they dare not give any numbers of those signing up. Things like this have a way of cascading, and the target client base might well react to low numbers of sign-ups by deciding not to, themselves.

Unless young, healthy, working people sign up in huge numbers, the entire system will be bleeding red ink from the start. The subsidies and tax credits and benefits will begin to flow for the poor, the sick, and the old. They MUST have the premiums from the young to even attempt to cover costs.

Could it be that they are actively blocking people from signing up right now because the more people know about their filthy plan the more people will join in the fight to defund it.

I am taking the red pill.

The MSM, the bluepills, are increasing in number. More Agent Smith’s too, at the IRS, NSA.

Also, the EPA takes years to do impact studies on the tiniest little creatures known to man but the ACA, never read but passed,is in the pipeline?

Regarding your post on being stuck in Zombieland earlier – did you see this post that says that everybody stuck in that situation will have to create new accounts? http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/10/obamacare-site-hits-reset-button-on-passwords-as-contractors-scramble/

As for me, I live in a state that decided on its own exchange at the very last minute (this past summer), so while the state has a website, it isn’t functional, and all people need to use the healthcare.gov site like the states that don’t have exchanges (at least until October or November 2014). I know somebody here who tried to log on to the healthcare.gov site, couldn’t do it, went to get “help”, and all that the person could tell him was that he’d have to use the state’s own system. When he pointed out that the state’s system directs everyone over to healthcare.gov, the help person was flummoxed, and couldn’t “help” any further. Talk about stuck in Zombieland! http://www.ktvb.com/news/local/Idahos-healthcare-exchange-still-experiencing-slowdowns-226960281.html

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