Author Topic: Obamacare's Website Is Crashing Because It Doesn't Want You To Know How Costly Its Plans Are  (Read 981 times)

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Offline sinkspur

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/10/14/obamacares-website-is-crashing-because-it-doesnt-want-you-to-know-health-plans-true-costs/?partner=yahootix

Obamacare's Website Is Crashing Because It Doesn't Want You To Know How Costly Its Plans Are

Avik Roy

October 14, 2013

The Healthcare.gov website requires that individuals looking for coverage enter personal information before comparing plans. IT experts believe that this requirement is causing the website to crash.

A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.

HHS didn’t want users to see Obamacare’s true costs

“Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” report Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.” Why was it delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.” (Emphasis added.)


As you know if you’ve been following this space, Obamacare’s bevy of mandates, regulations, taxes, and fees drives up the cost of the insurance plans that are offered under the law’s public exchanges. A Manhattan Institute analysis I helped conduct found that, on average, the cheapest plan offered in a given state, under Obamacare, will be 99 percent more expensive for men, and 62 percent more expensive for women, than the cheapest plan offered under the old system. And those disparities are even wider for healthy people.

That raises an obvious question. If 50 million people are uninsured today, mainly because insurance is too expensive, why is it better to make coverage even costlier?

Political objectives trumped operational objectives

The answer is that Obamacare wasn’t designed to help healthy people with average incomes get health insurance. It was designed to force those people to pay more for coverage, in order to subsidize insurance for people with incomes near the poverty line, and those with chronic or costly medical conditions.

But the laws’ supporters and enforcers don’t want you to know that, because it would violate the President’s incessantly repeated promise that nothing would change for the people that Obamacare doesn’t directly help. If you shop for Obamacare-based coverage without knowing if you qualify for subsidies, you might be discouraged by the law’s steep costs.

So, by analyzing your income first, if you qualify for heavy subsidies, the website can advertise those subsidies to you instead of just hitting you with Obamacare’s steep premiums. For example, the site could advertise plans that “$0″ or “$30″ instead of explaining that the plan really costs $200, and you’re getting a subsidy of $200 or $170. But you’ll have to be at or near the poverty line to gain subsidies of that size; most people will either not qualify for a subsidy, or qualify for a small one that, net-net, doesn’t make up for the law’s cost hikes.

This political objective—masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans—far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly. Think about it the other way around. If the “Affordable Care Act” truly did make health insurance more affordable, there would be no need to hide these prices from the public.

Subsidy verification created a traffic bottleneck

Comparable private-sector e-commerce sites, like eHealthInsurance.com, allow you to shop for plans and compare prices simply by entering your age and your ZIP code. After you’ve selected a plan you like, you fill out an on-line application. That substantially winnows down the number of people who rely on the site for network-intensive tasks.

The federal government’s decision to force people to apply before shopping, Weaver and Radnofsky write, “proved crucial because, before users can begin shopping for coverage, they must cross a busy digital junction in which data are swapped among separate computer systems built or run by contractors including CGI Group Inc., the healthcare.gov developer, Quality Software Services Inc., a UnitedHealth Group Inc. unit; and credit-checker Experian PLC. If any part of the web of systems fails to work properly, it could lead to a traffic jam blocking most users from the marketplace.”

Jay Angoff, a former federal official at the agency that oversees the exchange, told the Journal that he was surprised by the decision. “People should be able to get quotes” without entering all of that information upfront.

Weaver and Radnofsky say that the core problem stems from “the slate of registration systems [that] intersect with Oracle Identity Manager, a software component embedded in a government identity-checking system.” The main Healthcare.gov web page collects information using the CGI Group technology. Then that data is transferred to a system built by Quailty Software Services. QSS then sends data to Experian, the credit-history firm. But the key “identity management system” employed by QSS was designed by Oracle, and according to the Journal’s sources, the Oracle software isn’t playing nicely with the other information systems.

Oracle hotly denies these claims. “Our software is the identical product deployed in most of the world’s most complex systems…our software is running properly,” said an Oracle spokeswoman in a statement.

‘It’s awful, just awful’

Robert Pear and colleagues at the New York Times have a piece up today detailing the serious problems with the federal exchange, problems that may get worse, not better. They confirm what we already knew: that the Obama administration refused to delay the implementation of the exchanges, despite the well-known problems, because they were afraid of the political blowback. “Former government officials say the White House, which was calling the shots, feared that any backtracking would further embolden Republican critics who were trying to repeal the health care law.”

As I documented last week, IT and insurance experts have been saying for at least eight months that implementation of the exchanges was going badly, that as early as February officials were warning of a “third world experience.” The Times’ sources are just as blunt. “These are not glitches,” said one insurance executive. “The extent of the problems is pretty enormous. At the end of our [conference calls with the administration], people say, ‘It’s awful, just awful.’”

“We foresee a train wreck,” said another executive in a February interview with the Times. “We don’t have the IT specifications. The level of angst in health plans is growing by leaps and bounds. The political people in the administration do not understand how far behind they are.” Richard Foster, the former chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said last week that “so much testing of the new system was so far behind schedule, I was not confident it would work well.”

Henry Chao, the deputy chief information officer at CMS who made the “third world experience” comment, was told by his superiors that failure to meet the October 1 launch deadline “was not an option,” according to the Times.

White House knowingly chose to court disaster

Think about it. It’s quite possible that much of this disaster could have been avoided if the Obama administration had been willing to be open with the public about the degree to which Obamacare escalates the cost of health insurance. If they had, then a number of the problems with the exchange’s software architecture would have been avoided. But that would require admitting that the “Affordable Care Act” was not accurately named.

They knew that their people on the front lines, people like Henry Chao, were worried that the exchanges would get botched. They saw the Congressional Research Service memorandum detailing that the administration has missed half of the statutory deadlines assigned by the law. But they were more afraid of the P.R. disaster of crashing websites than they were of the P.R. disaster of disclosing Obamacare’s high premiums. What you see is the result.
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Offline olde north church

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Obamacare is  tri-purposed, at least.  Take over 17% of US economy, check.  Move citizens to single payer system, on schedule.
What is the third, less apparent and more destructive?  How about siphoning a trillion plus dollars from the middle class to the poor in 10 years or less?  With the increased cost of insurance and likely ineligibility for subsidies to pay for the increased rates, families will be force to sell off assets to keep up with payments.
Basically stealing the land from the farmers a la Zimbabwe and South Africa.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2013, 02:22:22 PM by olde north church »
Why?  Well, because I'm a bastard, that's why.

Offline Relic

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It's ok, Democrats mean well, and they're "for the little guy". The media will ignore this as much as possible, and the American public is too stupid to realize just what's going on without help.

Offline Bigun

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Offline Relic

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Obamacare is  tri-purposed, at least.  Take over 17% of US economy, check.  Move citizens to single payer system, on schedule.
What is the third, less apparent and more destructive?  How about siphoning a trillion plus dollars from the middle class to the poor in 10 years or less?  With the increased cost of insurance and likely ineligibility for subsidies to pay for the increased rates, families will be force to sell off assets to keep up with payments.
Basically stealing the land from the farmers a la Zimbabwe and South Africa.


I couldn't agree more. Ironic how many people who are about to be economically bludgeoned, enthusiastically voted for the human garbage that is Obama.

My youngest son, (21), has had his eyes opened, and I'm quick to remind him what he's seeing is what I told him was coming.

Offline Bigun

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Obamacare is  tri-purposed, at least.  Take over 17% of US economy, check.  Move citizens to single payer system, on schedule.
What is the third, less apparent and more destructive?  How about siphoning a trillion plus dollars from the middle class to the poor in 10 years or less?  With the increased cost of insurance and likely ineligibility for subsidies to pay for the increased rates, families will be force to sell off assets to keep up with payments.
Basically stealing the land from the farmers a la Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Quoting another poster here:

Quote
Obamacare is nothing but a high tech Nazi concentration camp. Instead of ID numbers tattooed on the arm, we have SSNs on file. Instead of being greeted by someone as you get off the train and being directed to the death camp or the work camp, we now have a committee to decide if you live or die. Instead of doctors deciding if they will save you or not, we now have a committee. Instead of a log book with all the victims information, we now have computer files. Instead of armed guards we have the NSA, IRS, and FBI working together to punish anyone who says anything negative about Herr Obama. I could go on at some length but you get the idea.

He is entirely correct!

Offline jmyrlefuller

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Mr. Roy, once again, has some very good points.

I would also like to point out (probably again) that the subsidy gambit is in fact a ruse. Much like those "mail-in rebate" offers, you have to buy the product at full-price first, then wait for months before your tax refund comes in to get the subsidy. That's because the subsidies are set up as "tax credits." That means that the full price you would see without any subsidy whatsoever would be the price you pay regardless.

In other words, attempting to bottleneck the system was unneccessary and advertising the prices with subsidies is blatantly dishonest. (That, of course, is a hallmark of this administration.)
"Just because people in positions of authority are stupid, it doesn’t mean you have to go along with it." —Arlo Guthrie

Offline olde north church

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This is why I think the pontificating and calls to educate the people are pretty much a waste of time or perhaps the cart before the horse. Before Jefferson, Madison, Alexander and Jay were possible, Sam Adams, Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry were necessary.  They awoke the populace, urgency.  Concurrently was the education and arms.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2013, 03:14:27 PM by olde north church »
Why?  Well, because I'm a bastard, that's why.

Offline Puss-N-Boots

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Just for the fun of it, I went on to see how much it would cost me for healthcare coverage.  For me and my husband, both of us in very good health, the cheapest plan is $726 a month with a $5,000 deductible and $40 copays.
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Offline aligncare

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The answer is that Obamacare wasn’t designed to help healthy people with average incomes get health insurance. It was designed to force those people to pay more for coverage, in order to subsidize insurance for people with incomes near the poverty line, and those with chronic or costly medical conditions.

Of course, we had to pass it before we could know what's in it.

Now, on the website, we have to buy in to it before we can learn what it will cost us. Nice. Real nice.
Some #NeverTrumpers are like the pockets of Japanese who didn't know the war was over

Offline happyg

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Just for the fun of it, I went on to see how much it would cost me for healthcare coverage.  For me and my husband, both of us in very good health, the cheapest plan is $726 a month with a $5,000 deductible and $40 copays.

There is no way I could afford something like that. I'm already tapping into my savings.


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