By Sandy Fitzgerald
Like the government, the Obamacare website will shutdown this weekend.
There are still many kinks in the Obamacare rollout, but they're being obscured by the government shutdown, giving the Obama administration some extra time to work out the problems.
The government's website www.healthcare.gov have been flooded with 8.6 million visitors, officials said Friday, while declining to say how many people were able to enroll in health insurance plans, reports The New York Times.
However, the site locks up when visitors reach the point in which they can see possible plans, and technicians this weekend will work on a section of the website where people apply for coverage, taking it down so they can upgrade its capabilities.
In an interview with The Associated Press, President Obama asked Americans for patience after technological glitches have made it difficult for millions of Americans to access the website.
“The website got overwhelmed by volume,” he said of the higher than expected interest in the program. “The insurance doesn’t start until January. So they’ll have plenty of time.”
House Speaker John Boehner on Friday slammed the plans to disable the enrollment site for maintenance, reports The Hill, saying the work shows major flaws with Obamacare.
"The news that [the] enrollment system is already going offline confirms that the launch of the president’s healthcare law has been an unmitigated disaster," Boehner said in a statement Friday. "How can this administration tax individuals for not purchasing a product from a website that doesn’t even work?"
"Americans have seen once again that Obamacare is not ready for prime time," Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican, said in a statement. "A dysfunctional website is the least of that law's problems."
Even insurance agents say they're having difficulty using the troubled website and get information to their customers.
"I am president of the National Association of Health Underwriters, and I could not get on the Web site," Thomas M. Harte, a New Hampshire insurance broker told The Times."I have tried more than a dozen times, in the middle of the day and the middle of the night."
Other users complained they could not create online accounts they needed to see the health plans available.
“The president calls these glitches, a nice poll-tested, fairly benign-sounding word,” said Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn. "But these were systemic failures of the Obamacare exchanges — obviously, not ready for prime time."
Democrats, though, say the problems are being caused by the high number of site visitors, showing there is a large public demand for affordable insurance plans.
Enrollments picked up on Friday, despite problems.
"We are pleased that enrollment for health care coverage through the new marketplaces is picking up," the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association said in a statement. "We expect enrollment to continue to increase."
The so-called Blues are major players in the individual insurance market, but some smaller insurers have yet to see any new customers, The Associated Press reports.
By Monday, "there will be significant improvements in the online consumer experience," the administration said on Friday.
But tech experts say that the website has problems beyond just simple traffic overages, reports The Washington Post, even though Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asked Americans to "give us the same slack you give Apple."
But the site doesn't even basically work, The Post said, and as a result, the Apple comparison -- one also used by President Barack Obama -- doesn't hold.
The site's online traffic crush is indeed behind some of the site's failures, but that is a planning flaw, reports The Post's "Wonkblog," saying that "the Obama administration badly underestimated the level of interest."
Designers complain the site is badly coded and as a result, visitors can't get through. In addition, the site's instructions are confusing, and the site crashes a few screens in.
Inspite of the problems with the site, does anyone see something that is coming through all of this? Look at the insurance companies, the underwriters for Obamacare. These are the companies that are gaining unprecidented increase in sales of their plans. What people don't yet understand is that these plans are not affordable and in a lot of cases will cost more than what people had before. It will always be more affordable to have insurance through an employer where they have the bargaining power of a group of insured rather than an individual.
I remember a group in Spokane that got very smart. They are called Associated Industries and their one and only purpose is to join as many smaller businesses together under one umbrella where they can bargain for better insurance rates and many other services where "numbers" count. Example is that they had, when I worked there, joned together under their insurance umbrella nearly 250 small business; where each individually would not get the best possible premium rates and therefore could not offer their employees "company paid" medical insurance, and the employees had to pay their own premium, under the umbrella the rates were so affordable that all the member businesses were able to pay the premium for the employee at least and in many cases all their dependents, too. And it cost them less than what just providing insurance for the employee alone had before.
Insurance companies want the business and when they see a group of 4500 people to insure then are going to be very competitive and creative in their premium assessment; when they see one person with 3 dependents it is going to be top dollar they charge.
So what you are seeing with Obamacare is that "bargaining leverage" eliminated. They will offer lower than normal, but not anywhere near what it could be if they were dealing with a large entity seeking insurance privately.
This is one of the areas where I seem Obamacare failing. The only way it would work is if all the people signing up under Obamacare were treated as one large "business" seeking insurance and then it would have to be a contract awarded to only one insurance provider; this is thousands (maybe millions) of people signing up but treated as an individual where they chose a company, etc. Their only bargaining chip is Obamacare and the government has demanded some cut in premium cost; but still it is one person not a huge corporation.
And this is only one side of Obamacare's failures. We have not addressed the fact that it is going to cost the Country and all these "insured" billions in expense of the program alone. Nothing is free and most things are not even "affordable". That should be the first clue people have to why this is a failure before it even starts for many of them.
And, "shut down" it did! Obama and his cheerleading squad would like for us to believe that Obamacare made a touchdown on Obamacare but the truth is there were major flags thrown on the field. That means there are a few significant penalties to face namely "Dead on Arrival" and our young Americans are seeing first hand, those who could get on the website, that their premiums under Obamacare are higher than they would pay through their employer or taking an individual plan. They will pay the penalty and be done with it.
The plan is to have Obamacare become a failure. Harry Reid says that the ultimate goal is to have a single-payer system that abandons health insurance altogether. In order for Obamacare to work, they are counting on (as you said Diane) the young & healthy who have to be convinced that it is in their best interest to pay for insurance with high premiums to make premiums low for the old and sickly. But instead, a number of young adults will likely prefer to face the penalties for not signing up or as in the case of a 30 year old 3rd year law student at the University of Connecticut who somehow managed to check out the exchange to see if he could do better than his school sponsored health plan ($39 premium & $2500 deductible), he found that he was eligible for Medicaid under Obamacare and will pay nothing.
They've had 3 years to get this up & running and still there were major glitches. Gov't knows how to royally make a mess of things. These are the people we should trust to run things so important as our health? When asked for numbers of how many actually signed up on Oct. 1st, they dance around the subject & say, well, people have plenty of time to sign up.
...''I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'---Ronald Reagan
- But at the moment I'd like to talk about another way because this threat is with us and at the moment is more imminent. One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project.. . . Now, the American people, if you put it to them about socialized medicine and gave them a chance to choose, would unhesitatingly vote against it. We have an example of this. Under the Truman administration it was proposed that we have a compulsory health insurance program for all people in the United States, and, of course, the American people unhesitatingly rejected this.
- Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine (recording (1961)
- The doctor begins to lose freedom. . . . First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then doctors aren’t equally divided geographically. So a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him, you can't live in that town. They already have enough doctors. You have to go someplace else. And from here it's only a short step to dictating where he will go. . . . All of us can see what happens once you establish the precedent that the government can determine a man's working place and his working methods, determine his employment. From here it's a short step to all the rest of socialism, to determining his pay. And pretty soon your son won't decide, when he's in school, where he will go or what he will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell him where he will go to work and what he will do.
- Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine (recording (1961)
This post was modified from its original form on 06 Oct, 13:27