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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

New York Times Editorial, "Fast Recovery for Health Care Website": Papering Over a Fraud

Imagine that you are an Amazon customer interested in purchasing a book. You go to the Amazon website, but are placed on a "queue" and told to wait, or, to come back later when fewer people are visiting the site. Afterwards, you somehow successfully place your order, but you are informed that there is a significant chance that this order will never be processed or that the wrong book will be sent to you. Would you tolerate this? Not for an instant. And yet Obama and friends are doing this to persons seeking to obtain health care insurance, while claiming that significant progress has been made in repairing their website.

This is a fraud on the American public.

In an editorial blithely entitled "Fast Recovery for Health Care Website" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/03/opinion/fast-recovery-for-health-care-website.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=0), The New York Times proudly informs us of progress involving the Obamacare website, but delicately hints at problems involving Obamacare's "back-end systems":

"On Sunday, the administration issued a progress report asserting that the system was running smoothly for a vast majority of users, that the site was now working more than 90 percent of the time, and that consumers were getting much better feedback from the site than before. Thanks to software and hardware improvements, the average page is loading in less than a second compared with an average of 8 seconds in late October, and the number of frustrating error messages that block people from using the site has fallen below 1 percent.

. . . .

The big challenge ahead is to upgrade the back-end systems that transmit information to insurance companies so that they can complete the enrollment process. Consumers have until Dec. 23 to sign up for policies effective on Jan. 1, leaving only three weeks to solve the back-end problem. In some cases, insurers have no record of some people who think they have enrolled or have received inaccurate or incomplete information for some enrollees. One big problem is that some insurers say they have not been told what subsidies a customer will get and what premium should be paid by the customer.

If those problems can’t be fixed quickly, the administration will need to find alternate ways for people to enroll and get subsidies without going through the website."

Hmm. There has been progress involving the Obamacare website? In fact, the repair of the website is no more than a gimmick. As observed today in a Washington Post article entitled
"Health-care enrollment on Web plagued by bugs" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/health-care-enrollment-on-web-plagued-by-bugs/2013/12/02/e3021b86-5b79-11e3-a49b-90a0e156254b_story.html?hpid=z1) by Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin (my emphasis in red):

"Federal health officials announced Sunday that they had met that goal. By 6 p.m. Monday, the Web site had had close to 800,000 unique visitors — one of the administration’s targets for the site’s performance — and was set to pass that mark by the end of the day, according to administration officials. And the site processed 18,000 enrollments in the most recent 24-hour period, nearly double the previous record.

Still, not all was smooth. By mid-morning Monday, some Americans trying to use the Web site were running into a logjam. And by late morning, when the number of people on the site was roughly 35,000 — or 15,000 fewer than administration officials had said it could handle — some consumers encountered a 'queue,' a new feature intended for times when the site was too crowded. The feature limits the number of people on the site and notifies others by e-mail when it’s a better time to log in."

Okay, the website no longer crashes. Instead, visitors are placed on a queue. Cute.

However, far more worrisome are problems involving the Obamacare "back-end systems." As was reported yesterday in a New York Times article entitled "Insurers Claim Health Website Is Still Flawed" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/02/business/white-house-praises-gains-on-health-site.html?hpw&rref=health&_r=0) by Robert Pear and Reed Abelson:

"Weeks of frantic technical work appear to have made the government’s health care website easier for consumers to use. But that does not mean everyone who signs up for insurance can enroll in a health plan.

The problem is that so-called back end systems, which are supposed to deliver consumer information to insurers, still have not been fixed.

. . . .

The issues are vexing and complex. Some insurers say they have been deluged with phone calls from people who believe they have signed up for a particular health plan, only to find that the company has no record of the enrollment. Others say information they received about new enrollees was inaccurate or incomplete, so they had to track down additional data — a laborious task that would not be feasible if data is missing for tens of thousands of consumers.

In still other cases, insurers said, they have not been told how much of a customer’s premium will be subsidized by the government, so they do not know how much to charge the policyholder."

Or stated otherwise, the Obamacare website can cause you to believe that you have enrolled in a health care plan, although there is no assurance whatsoever that this is the case. As reported today by Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post in an article entitled "Health-care enrollment on Web plagued by bugs" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/health-care-enrollment-on-web-plagued-by-bugs/2013/12/02/e3021b86-5b79-11e3-a49b-90a0e156254b_story.html?hpid=z1) (my emphasis in red):

"The enrollment records for a significant portion of the Americans who have chosen health plans through the online federal insurance marketplace contain errors — generated by the computer system — that mean they might not get the coverage they’re expecting next month.

The errors cumulatively have affected roughly one-third of the people who have signed up for health plans since Oct. 1, according to two government and health-care industry officials."

Simply stated, this is fraud.

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