So screams the headline from the Worldnetdaily: “Obama ‘Crashing Health-Care Site on Purpose.’” That article is based upon a column from Avik Roy in Forbes which doesn’t actually say that. What it does say is that a decision was made to have that website do more than the bare minimum so that visitors to the site would be informed. Here’s what Roy wrote:
A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.
“Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” report Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.” Why was it delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.”
But there is a big difference between claiming that HHS made a decision that increased the burden on the server and saying that they are intentionally trying to crash the site. A very big difference. But there is little room for rationality in the Worldnetdaily’s form of “journalism.” Nor is there any discussion as to whether the HHS was right to make that decision or not. It seems like a perfectly reasonable choice to me. If you’re trying to get predominately poor people to sign up for insurance and they are eligible for subsidies, it’s a good idea to make sure they know that they can get those subsidies or they may just give up on the whole thing.
As for those high prices, I registered on the site and went through the whole process and was very surprised at how relatively inexpensive the policies are. I currently pay $420 a month for my health insurance and that’s for a very crappy policy with a high deductible. I can get a much better policy in the ACA health care exchange for much cheaper. Even a platinum plan that pays 90% of the costs of my health care is $132 a month less, without any subsidy. That’s going to save me thousands of dollars a year.
And by the way, the healthcare.gov site now does have an option for looking at the prices of policies without registering and going through the entire signup process.