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October 18, 2013

Technology Experts: Obamacare Exchange Built Using 10-Year-Old Technology, Will Never Work Properly Unless Rebuilt

Topics: Political News and commentaries

Well, so much for the Obama administration's expertise in managing projects ... and our money!

ocare exchange.jpg

USA Today reports:

The federal health care exchange was built using 10-year-old technology that may require constant fixes and updates for the next six months and the eventual overhaul of the entire system, technology experts told USA TODAY.

The site could be perfect, but if the systems from which it draws data are not up to speed, it doesn't matter, said John Engates, chief technology officer at Rackspace, a cloud computer service provider.

"It is a core problem in the sense of it's fundamental to this thing actually working, but it's not necessarily a problem that the people who wrote can get to," Engates said. "Even if they had a perfect system, it still won't work."

Recent changes have made the exchanges easier to use, but they still require clearing the computer's cache several times, stopping a pop-up blocker, talking to people via Web chat who suggest waiting until the server is not busy, opening links in new windows and clicking on every available possibility on a page in the hopes of not receiving an error message. With those changes, it took one hour to navigate the enrollment process Wednesday.

"I have never seen a website -- in the last five years -- require you to delete the cache in an effort to resolve errors," said Dan Schuyler, a director at Leavitt Partners, a health care group by former Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt. "This is a very early Web 1.0 type of fix."

"The application could be fundamentally flawed," said Jeff Kim, president of CDNetworks, a content-delivery network. "They may be using 1990s technology in 2.0 world."

More here.

In other words, as writer Andrew Couts so aptly notes, America's taxpayers, seem to have forked up more than $634 million of the federal purse to build the digital equivalent of a rock.

And that doesn't include what it's going to cost to fix and/or replace it.

That, my friends,should require that those responsible for this debacle be fired. In the private sector it would probably be the guy at the top that totally failed at getting the right people to do the job.

However, the cost of isn't the only thing that should make you foot-stomping, table-banging mad. As Avik Roy reports at Forbes, one of the primary reasons for the debacle is that HHS didn't want users to see Obamacare's true costs - 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. Simply put, the Administration's political objectives trumped operational objectives:

[...] 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.

Read the whole thing.

Related: Obamacare woes widen as insurers get wrong data:

In a sign that technological problems extend further than the website traffic and software issues already identified, insurers say the federal health-care marketplace is generating flawed data that is straining their ability to handle even the trickle of enrollees who have gotten through so far ...
Hat tip - Weazel Zippers

Posted by Hyscience at October 18, 2013 10:12 AM

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