At the end of October, Jeffrey Zients, the man who has assumed control over the website — a man with no background in computers — announced that all will be well on November 30.
What if it isn’t? What if it is still in intensive care?
Multimillionaire Zients is scheduled to become President Obama’s chief economic adviser on January 1.
But first, he has promised to oversee the fixing of www.Healthcare.gov by November 30.
What if it does not work on November 30? From the day he becomes the #1 economic adviser, the media will refer to him in their reports: “The man in charge of www.Healthcare.gov is now the President’s top economic advisor.” He will not shake loose from the albatross, which will be tied securely around his neck. He decided to wear it. Now he cannot take it off.
What is the site’s problem? This: the programmers were told by the government that no one must be allowed to see the prices of the policies until he has registered. Why not? Because of sticker shock. The premium price hikes are so high, that without the promise of tax credits, they will shock shoppers. So, the programmers were told to design it so that the site would tell shoppers in advance how big their tax credits will be. Therefore, everyone must register.
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.”
The complexity has shut it down. Hardly anyone can register. The site is jammed up. At most, 50,000 have signed up. They have not all actually bought policies. They have merely put a plan into the shopping cart. They are eligible to buy a policy, if they have the money. They are officially enrolled. But they are not yet policy owners.
The government is counting shopping cart non-buyers as having successfully signed up. This makes the debacle look better. It inflates the figure.
What if federal judge Paul Friedman decides in the case now before him that the fact that the ObamaCare law did not specify that policies bought through the federal government’s exchanges would receive any subsidies therefore invalidates the subsidies? That would mean that the IRS may not grant the tax rebates. That decision is due by February 15.
The loser in this case will then appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. That will take months to decide.
If the rebates are denied, the entire scheme blows up in Obama’s face. The tens of millions of Americans who have had their policies canceled will face the new premiums without any protection.
The Democrats who voted for ObamaCare will then face the voters without any protection.