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Obamacare website mess

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(KPLR) – In Monday's Jacology, Charles Jaco looks at the Obamacare web site mess.

I've been trying to sign up on the Obamacare web site at health care dot gov and have been getting nowhere. The site is such a mess that it’s been taken down nationwide today...and hopes to be back tomorrow. This has been a debacle. That's their bad news. The good news is that the web site flashed a toll-free number on the screen. I called it, got through to a real live customer assistance person within two minutes and would have been able to enroll over the phone if I had wished.

The website mess should have been predictable. Most people who go to the web site are window shopping at first. They want to find out what plans are available, what they cover and how much they cost. But they can't do that. You see, depending on your income level, there are all sorts of federal subsidies to help you pay for the health insurance. But to calculate the subsidies, the web site needs to know what state you live in and what your income is. And not do that, they have to link to the IRS computers to verify your income.

So the first thing that happens is the web site binds up and doesn't work. It would have been easier to show you the health insurance plans first along with a graph or a table showing what income levels get what subsidies and then let you do the math yourself. If I’m online at Amazon or Best Buy, I want to see TV sets, their capabilities and how much they cost. I do not want to fill out a survey about what programs I watch and under what lighting conditions so the web site can select the best TV for me.

This is a technical problem. It’s also a problem of hubris. The administration was so confident that it didn’t figure in for heavy traffic that would jam up the site. It also figured that subsidies had to be calculated before you can even see the insurance plans. None of this was helped by conservative states that refused to set up their own web sites, thus clogging this one with more traffic. And the GOP controlled house holding up funding for the Obamacare web site development also didn’t help. Let's see if it’s any better tomorrow morning. Or not.

I'm Charles Jaco, and that's Jacology.

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