ObamaCare Clusterfuck: 12 days left until enrollment, and the Federal Exchanges can't calculate prices correctly
Less than two weeks before the launch of insurance marketplaces created by the federal health overhaul, the government's software can't reliably determine how much people need to pay for coverage, according to insurance executives and people familiar with the program.
If not resolved by the Oct. 1 launch date, the problems could affect consumers in 36 states where the federal government is running all or part of the exchanges. About 32 million uninsured people live in those states, but only a fraction of them are expected to sign up in the next year.
Yeah, and no wonder. Who's going to risk a perjury rap and sign up to spend thousands of dollars on a website that's known to be buggy? I mean, imagine that buying insurance really was like buying a flat-screen TV. Would you buy a flat-screen TV with no price sticker, or, worse, randomly changing price stickers? "Wow, I'd swear that was $499. That was what was on the box five minutes ago. Did somebody change it?" "Oh, honey, that's just a bug. Let's buy it anyway! You know you want to!" And here's another question:
The great computer scientist Edsger W. Dijkstra wrote: "Program testing can be used to show the presence of bugs, but never to show their absence!" So, OK, it's the day after launch in the wonderful new world of ObamaCare, and I go online to healthcare.gov and encounter a bug, maybe even a freeze or a crash. Where do I file a bug report? My state exchange? A Navigator? The fresh-faced young Obot who sold me on the idea? My congresscritter or Senator? (Actually, that might be the best option.) More than that, how do I know the system is bug free? The system gives me a price. It seems reasonable. But how do I know it's correct? Is there going to be some point when the administration announces "The reported bug count is zero"? (With an open source project, of course, that would be possible. Not with ObamaCare.) More:
Four people familiar with the development of the software that determines how much people would pay for subsidized coverage on the federally run exchanges said it was still miscalculating prices. Tests on the calculator initially scheduled[*] to begin months ago only started this week at some insurers, according to insurance executives and two people familiar with development efforts.
"There's a blanket acknowledgment that rates are being calculated incorrectly," said one senior health-insurance executive who asked not to be named. "Our tech and operations people are very concerned about the problems they're seeing and the potential of them to stick around."
The Feds disagree:
Federal officials also said ongoing testing is meant to get ahead of such problems. "We continue working with [insurers] and we are confident that on Oct. 1, consumers will see accurate premium costs [note careful qualification], including tax credits," said Brian Cook, a Medicare spokesman.
I think that's crap. If they're still debugging 12 days before launch, all the bugs in the calculators aren't going to be fixed, and that's before we start talking about the rest of the system. This would be true if you or I were building a tiny little website, and it's going to be true for a humongously complex multi-system, multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional systems integration project with a ton of different vendors. And if the executives are starting to leak, that means we're in for a round of fingerpointing and blame fixing, since that's their institutional role.
Pass the popcorn!
The real issue here, of course, is that the Exchanges, like the private health insurance industry, shouldn't even exist. There's another computer science saying: "The cheapest, fastest, and most reliable components are those that aren't there." Yep. With single payer Medicare for all, all this nonsense would go away. In fact, if Obama and the Democrats, who suck, had done the right thing in 2009 - 2010, nuked the Republicans with filibuster reform, and passed singler payer, the country would already have saved a trillion dollars. Not to mention lives.
NOTE * Wait, wait, I thought the Exchanges were totally on schedule?