Would the Obamacare Web sites have worked better if we just had universal health care?

October 13, 2013

(Sarah Kliff / The Washington Post)

Last week was a rough one for Obamacare, whose continuing Web site glitches have prevented users from signing up for health insurance. The Switch's Timothy Lee explained just what went wrong with the sites, prompting a torrent of reader criticism of the system. kennykatzen responded, "American taxpayers paid $634 million for the Obamacare website and all we got was a lousy 404 error page."

Others saw the lurching Web sites as the consequence of an imperfect compromise. scientician wrote:

Medicare for All would have avoided this. This is a consequence of the Rube Goldberg attempt to leave the voracious and ineffective private insurance companies still in place. We can rehash the politics of why that was done, but it really does vastly complicate the challenge of making health care available to all, like any humane and moral country should.

On Friday, I wrote about the crumbling attempt to craft a Do Not Track standard that would protect consumers from targeted advertising. Reader okiepoli cheekily suggested that instead of an Internet-wide privacy policy, Web site owners should be charged a fee by consumers for using tracking cookies:

Is anyone interested in writing a script that looks at a browser’s cookie cache, teases out the site’s web address, queries DNS for the owner and sends an automated e-mail:

Thank you for using okiepoli’s cloud storage service. Our rates are $75/byte/month, you are currently storing XXXX bytes.

Please indicate how you would prefer your bill, e-mail or postal mail.

Looking forward to doing business with you,

okiepoli

And when my colleague Andrea Peterson highlighted Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's comments about the Internet, she won some not-so-secret admirers. "This is why I have a digit [sic] crush on you Peterson," wrote reader MarKon1. "Great interpretation of a SCOTUS dinosaur!!"

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecom, broadband and digital politics. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.
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Brian Fung · October 12, 2013