• A little perspective on healthcare.gov

    Healthcare.gov, and some of the states’ exchange websites, got off to a poor start, to put it mildly. But website woes that frustrate consumers are not unique to government. Those of private insurers exhibit them too! Witness the experience my step-father has had:

    Beginning January 1, I will be retired, and will no longer have health insurance through my employer.  I have enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, but want to enroll in a Medicare supplemental plan as well.  According to the rates now published for 2014, I can get the plan I want (Plan N) at the best price from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ.  So for the past month I have been going to the Horizon website, and calling its agents—to no avail.  The website and the agents continue to say “we cannot enroll now” in those plans, because “the website is being updated.” This is a company that has been selling these highly prescribed plans for years now.  This is the PRIVATE sector–with years of operational experience!  This is not the federal government cramming a complex development process into a compressed period for an initial launch.  Systems have problems, and the highly charged and politicized focus on the Obamacare launch and its problems obscures the fact that things always go awry at first . . .and sometimes for quite some time, even in the best of circumstances, and even in the private sector.

    I’ll note that my mother experienced the same thing several years ago. I acknowledge these are anecdotes. Has anyone studied this, specific problem with (private!) Medicare supplement policies? Any relevant news reports?


    • In the last month, the CEO of one of the private online sites–ehealthinsurance.com, I think, who it should also be noted is an Obamacare supporter–said his site could handle the sign ups. I know there are other, similar sites.

      I have to wonder why they were not picked. I also have to assume that there’s a pretty good reason existing infrastructure was not used. My guess is that most would be more than willing to follow the standards set by the government in exchange for having new people visit the site, although I am not sure how they make money.

      Apologies if this has been covered before, but it seems too obvious to ignore, so again, I have to assume there’s some reason that’s beyond my understanding of why this route wasn’t taken.

      • I believe that the easy, but unsatisfying answer, is “Federal Procurement Regulations.” To a first approximation, the requirements for contracting any large software system essentially guarantees that it will be a mess.

    • True enough IMHO it is too early to criticize healthcare.gov too harshly on function. One might criticize the spending though, they did spend $1billion and 3 years.

    • In my work I have to access insurance company and ancillary sites (private sector) regularly. Few of them work as advertised/intended and yet we are being pushed by the industry to utilize web sites rather than phone consultants. Surely there is a grad student somewhere who could turn this into a research project?