Almost nothing about Obamacare’s
federal exchange system is working. It’s almost impressive how
comprehensive the federal system’s technical failures are. Just
about every part of the system that has been reported on seems to
have problems, many of which are quite serious.
- The account creation system necessary to even start the process
of using the exchanges basically didn’t work at all when the site
launched. Administrators appear to have improved this functionality
since launch, but Jeff Zients, who is overseeing the
says it’s still not working for about 10 percent of users.
- The vast majority of people who can create accounts still can’t
complete the enrollment process. According to Zients, only about 30
percent of users are able to get through the system.
- Anyone who successfully logs in gets to the point of shopping
for specific plans on the exchanges may see prices displayed
incorrectly, as the system has
calculating eligibility for public subsidies for
insurance.(Subsidy calculation has also
several state-run exchanges.)
- Anyone who decides to browse for plans without logging in first
liable to see incorrect prices. The “shop and browse” feature
installed to mitigate problems caused by the broken account system
often displays the wrong prices, because it lumps together premiums
for anyone who is 49 and under, and anyone who is 50 or older.
Everyone under 50 is provided prices for a 27-year-old, even though
prices for people in their 40s might be quite a bit higher.
- Several exchanges are having
displaying provider and network information for the plans on
offer. This is not a big problem for the federal exchanges yet
because they are still so dysfunctional, but if the state-run
exchanges are any indication, it could eventually create headaches
for people who want to know which doctors and hospitals are
attached to which plans.
- Even with just a trickle of individuals making it all the way
through the process, insurers are
not getting correct enrollment information from the exchanges.
As a result, many are reviewing applications manually. If larger
numbers of applications ever make it through the system, that won’t
be sustainable. And there may be longer term problems as well: If
enrollment data is transmitted incorrectly, people could eventually
find out they didn’t enroll in the plan they selected, or didn’t
actually enroll at all.
- The small business exchanges aren’t fully up and running
either. Enrollment in those exchanges, already delayed once, was
delayed again, the administration
announced this week.
- The federal exchanges were supposed to seamlessly interface
with multiple state Medicaid programs, but that functionality,
originally delayed until November 1, was
also further delayed last week. And at this point, federal
officials won’t say when they expect that functionality will be
- Security testing for the federal exchange system was never
internal memo warned that too little testing “exposed a level
of uncertainty that can be deemed as a high risk.” (The temporary
security authorization under which the site is operating also
appears to violate the administration’s own web security
- The Spanish language version of the website has been
- The “data hub” that routes information between multiple
databases has gone
multiple occasions due to hosting facility outages.
It’s a near-total failure. All the major segments of the
system—the user end, the insurer end, the data-routing in the
middle, the plan information on display, the connections with
state-run legacy systems—are either problem-plagued or broken
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/01/almost-nothing-about-obamacares-federal