The Obama administration has not created a functioning Web site. Rather, it has erected a Potemkin village online — a façade that temporarily conceals the lack of architecture behind it. The Post reports:
The enrollment records for a significant portion of the Americans who have chosen health plans through the online federal insurance marketplace contain errors — generated by the computer system — that mean they might not get the coverage they’re expecting next month.
The errors cumulatively have affected roughly one-third of the people who have signed up for health plans since Oct. 1, according to two government and health-care industry officials. The White House disputed the figure but declined to provide its own.
The mistakes include failure to notify insurers about new customers, duplicate enrollments or cancellation notices for the same person, incorrect information about family members, and mistakes involving federal subsidies. The errors have been accumulating since HealthCare.gov opened two months ago, even as the Obama administration has been working to make it easier for consumers to sign up for coverage, the government and industry officials said.
It is somehow appropriate that the administration’s health-care plan, which was sold on the basis of multiple untruths (keep your health-care plan, keep your doctor, bend the cost curve) is now itself a grand deception. The Web site provides the illusion of a working health-care exchange, but while it takes your information, there’s no telling what it will do with it (e.g. lose it, send duplicates, garble it). It’s the embodiment of the administration’s fixation on treating every substantive issue and real screw-up as a “message” problem. Now White House spokesman Jay Carney can “message” (when a noun is made into a new verb you know something phony is going on) that the Web site is “working.”
The only problem is that it isn’t. Ironically, the president was the one to point it out: Obamacare is more than a Web site. The Web site is a portal. Now that you can enter it, you expect to get the insurance you paid for? Silly you. (Even the Web site part of things is not working as planned. The Post reports: “Federal health officials said they saw an increase in error rates and a slowdown in response times and decided to deploy ‘queueing’ software designed to limit the number of users permitted on the site at one time.”)
The seriousness of the problem should not be underestimated. (“The errors, if not corrected, mean that tens of thousands of consumers are at risk of not having coverage when the insurance goes into effect Jan. 1, because the health plans they picked do not yet have accurate information needed to send them a bill.”) The strategy here is to save the president from further political damage, to buy him a month of slightly less horrible news coverage. It comes at the expense of the people Obamacare ostensibly is supposed to help. (By letting more people in the front door, there will be more people surprised they have no coverage in January, when it may be too late to take corrective action.) Come to think of it, that’s pretty much the way this administration works all the time.