Almost Nothing About Obamacare's Federal Exchange System Works

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
    troubleshooting project,
    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
    had problems

    calculating eligibility
    for public subsidies for
    insurance.(Subsidy calculation has also

    state-run exchanges.) 
  • Anyone who decides to browse for plans without logging in first
    is also
    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
    completed. An
    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
    delayed indefinitely
  • 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

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