Thursday, October 10, 2013

Understanding the Obamacare Web Site Mess; Problems Could Go On For Years

WaPo informs:

If the exchanges were just insurance marketplaces, getting them to work might have been a lot easier. Much of the complexity comes from the fact that the exchanges are used to administer the complex system of subsidies the Affordable Care Act provides to low-income consumers. Figuring out whether a customer is eligible for a subsidy, and if so how much, requires data from a lot of federal and state agencies. Here's a chart from Xerox that illustrates the complexity of the system:

The amount of subsidy depends on a consumer's income. To ensure each consumer receives the correct subsidy, the exchanges must request income data from the Internal Revenue Service.

The exchanges are only open to American citizens and documented immigrants. To verify an applicant's citizenship and immigration status, an exchange must first verify a customer's identity with the Social Security Administration, and then check her immigration status with the Department of Homeland Security.

The exchanges must also check to make sure applicants are not already enrolled in another government health insurance program, which would make them ineligible for Obamacare. That means retrieving data from the Veterans Health Administration, the Department of Defense, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Peace Corps. It also means checking with a state's Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program agencies to see if an applicant is already enrolled in one of those programs.

Finally, once a customer purchases health insurance, the exchange must provide her information to the insurance company she has chosen. Insurance companies across the country have been scrambling to integrate their own computer systems with the exchanges.[...]

Why are the exchange sites so busted?

Broadly speaking, the sites have suffered from two types of problems. In the first few days, the system was simply overwhelmed with traffic. Last week was probably one of the highest-traffic weeks the site will ever experience, and websites often discover unexpected problems during their first big traffic spikes. Early users of Twitter remember the "fail whales" that popped up regularly on the site as Twitter struggled to accommodate surging demand.

That initial traffic rush is now over and the Obama administration says it's buying more servers to cope with future traffic spikes. So in the long run, dealing with traffic volumes shouldn't be a serious problem.
But the exchange may have deeper design flaws. As discussed above, the site needs to interact with a large number of databases operated by various federal and state agencies. If these back-end systems are poorly designed, it could take months or even years to straighten out the mess.

More from WaPo here.
Please keep in mind, these are only the early software program problems. There will be an entire set of more serious problems when Obamacare goes into operation on January 1, 2014. Over time, price signals will be distorted, shortages of medical services and products will develop, long lines will be a daily occurrence and life expectancy will began to fall.


  1. yeah but by that time it will have ceased to be news and problems people have will become 'anecdotal' and the government (and presumably Jerry Wolfgang) will have reams of data, saying how 99.8% have a wonderful experience and how cynical people like us are for denying the 40 million access to healthcare.

  2. There are no "price signals" for non-elective surgery. Non-elective means the supplier of goods and services dictates demand. When competition increases, the supplier of goods and services simply dictates more demand. That is why competition drives up the amount of money spent on non-elective surgery and that is why the US spends more per capita on health care with less to show for it.

    1. yawn. in the old country which is a single payer health system was always going over budget and yet unless you were at the point of death, had waiting lists to get on waiting lists.
      the US spends more on healthcare because there is an insurance company who can increase its rates whereas a government is loath to increase taxes

    2. Is that how it works with the debt and the deficit? Oh wait, you don't know the difference do you?

    3. "Non-elective means the supplier of goods and services dictates demand."

      Just how do they "dictate" it, genius?

    4. Food is non-elective. You eat or you die. So, according to Jerry Wolfgang there must be no price signals in food. (And food production therefore must be nationalized in a paroxysm of socialist "raskulachibvanie"... with subsequent "golodomor", of course).

      Leftists are such unbelievable morons... congenitally incapable of rational thought; and this means you, Jerry.

  3. LOL! Any of the idiot Leftist who post or read here still want Obambacare?

  4. "the exchange must provide **her** information to the insurance company"

    And to top it off, WaPo is sticking a fork in my eye by butchering the English language with this PC shit.