Incompetence galore at the Obamacare site

Monday, October 28, 2013

Edward Klein's best-selling book, "The Amateur" skewered President Obama as an out-of-touch, arrogant incompetent who wouldn't admit what he didn't know.

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act, unfortunately, hasn't done the president's reputation any favors. Critics are calling for the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former Kansas governor, but she would only be a convenient scapegoat.

While more and more of us are using trouble-free, online shopping, we still have a choice of whether to do so or not.

Not so with Obamacare, in which we must participate or face fines.

The main contractor -- a Canadian company -- blamed the administration for the disastrous website launch, saying a last-minute change requires users to complete the registration process before shopping for health plans.

Obama finally decided last week that the problems were serious enough to extend the deadline for individuals to enroll by six months.

Even when participants are successful in enrolling, the system produces so many errors that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska had to hire extra staff to correct errors, and finally shut down the automated process.

Those extra people have to be paid -- making the Affordable Care Act even less affordable. Worse, according to a Manhattan Institute analysis found premiums for young and healthy Nebraskans are expected to increase 279 percent for men and 227 percent for women.

Unfortunately, the whole system depends on premium payments from young and healthy people.

Time magazine published a story about one programming expert who tried to enroll a relative, only to find many obvious problems, created by amateurish coding, with the Healthcare.gov website.

Logging on in mid-October, he found that one part of the site created so much "cookie" tracking data that it appeared to exceed the site's capacity to accept his login information.

Worse, an error message from the site relayed personal information over the Internet without encryption, and the email verification system could be bypassed without access to the email account.

Unless they're fixed, Healthcare.gov will be a hacker's paradise, and anyone who's used it is vulnerable to identity theft.

When the software expert cited in the Time story tried to let the Department of Health and Human Services know about the problems with their site, he waited on hold half an hour, then learned his complaints would be forwarded to the Federal Trade Commission, which would contact law enforcement as necessary.

Cynics speculate that it's all a plan, designed to be such a disaster that American's give up on the ACA and adopt a single-payer system like that used in Canada.

How much better if the Affordable Care Act had not been passed in the first place, and problems with the old system dealt with a piece at a time, in a sane, professional and responsible manner.

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  • Great editorial. Great ideas!

    -- Posted by dennis on Mon, Oct 28, 2013, at 2:37 PM
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