Policy: Technology

Examiner Editorial: still not close enough for government work

Editorial,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Health and Human Services,Health Care,,Technology,Health Care Exchanges

President Obama's minions announced to great fanfare Dec. 1 that “substantial progress ... has been made to stabilize and improve”, so now “the system runs smoothly for the vast majority of users.” Moreover, the rescue team responsible for these improvements to the central Obamacare website “is operating with private sector velocity and effectiveness, and will continue their work to enhance the website in the weeks and months ahead." Try as they might, however, to obscure the truth with those artfully-worded claims, the administration's defenders cannot make two facts go away.

First, as the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein pointed out, even if the claim that the site is now functioning properly 95.1 percent of the time is accepted at face value, it still falls far short of the private sector norm. For 130 major retailers, the average uptime from January to August 2012 for their websites was 99.34 percent, according to one study Klein cited, and in another study he found, the average for major sites like Amazon and eBay was 99.99 percent.

In other words, Klein said, “[T]he industry standard is for websites to be available for users 99.9 percent of the time. Anything below that is considered a failure and 95.1 percent is a disaster.” So, despite weeks of intensive repair work, the Obamacare website’s performance still isn’t even “close enough for government work.”

Second, even if worked perfectly, the Obamacare program itself remains so fundamentally flawed that it will continue to create massive confusion and disruption in the daily lives of millions of Americans who have already or will in coming months experience cancellation of their preferred health insurance coverage plans.

Obamacare will also continue to spark millions of cases of “sticker shock” as buyers of the new government-approved plans discover their monthly premium costs have doubled or tripled, while their out-of-pocket expenses for co-pays and deductibles reach upward to levels that were simply unthinkable only a few months ago.

And accompanying all of those dislocations will be the most serious result of Obamacare - widespread degradation in the quality of health care received by the American people as a result of legions of doctors and hospitals being dropped by health care-provider networks that insurance carriers must reduce to satisfy Obamacare regulatory requirements, as reported by Richard Pollock of the Examiner's watchdog investigative reporting team.

Obamacare defenders regularly point to the early problems seen in the launch of President George W. Bush's Medicare Part D Prescription Drug program. Obamacare is simply experiencing similar teething problems, they claim. There were significant delays and mis-steps then, to be sure, but the Prescription Drug program was straightforward and simple by comparison to Obamacare, which is putting one-sixth of the world’s largest economy under the control of unelected bureaucrats and political operatives in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the IRS and the White House. It's going to get worse.

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