Maddow Puts Healthcare Glitches in Perspective


Rachel Maddow did an excellent job of putting the problems with the healthcare.gov website into perspective. She noted that the rollout of Social Security was a massive boondoggle because of the difficulty of signing up 26 million people for the program in a year without the help of computers. Same with Medicare in 1965.

And, interestingly, same with the Medicare Part D program during the Bush administration, which had all sorts of computer glitches initially as well. And surprise, surprise, some of the same Republicans who are screaming bloody murder over the problems with the Obamacare website today were urging calm, bipartisan cooperation to fix the problems with that rollout in 2006.

This is not an excuse for how badly this rollout has gone. They had three years and it’s inexcusable that they rolled that system out without even testing it. It’s a very complex system but they spent nearly $100 million and still screwed it up. That’s bad. But the Republicans should really stop with the hypocritical histrionics over it.

Comments

  1. says

    This is not an excuse for how badly this rollout has gone. They had three years and it’s inexcusable that they rolled that system out without even testing it. It’s a very complex system but they spent nearly $100 million and still screwed it up. That’s bad.

    Now, being a Quaker I’m no expert on such things, but…
    They tested it. Like MMORPGs no test is adequate.
    The issue seems to be that their priorities were in the wrong places, sign-in vs anonymous visitation, without the capacity to deal with the extra load of secure visits (It should have been; enter age and location, browse, then when a plan is bought the rest of the data is entered, similar to being able to browse at Amazon and only having to sign-in/make an account when you buy).
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a barn to raise.

  2. Nihilismus says

    I haven’t checked the website myself yet, but I remember reading that the reason for requiring the other data before browsing was so that applicants would know for what subsidies they were eligible before seeing the “price” of the plans. After all, Republicans constantly leave off the subsidies when complaining about how much someone has to pay. To be fair, Senator Obama did the same thing in his debates with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, when Obama was originally against a mandate.

    The hiccups with the health care site are not extraordinary compared to other websites. They have no bearing on the health care law as a whole. The administration was always open to tweaking minor problems with the law and its implementation, but the Republicans would rather keep the problems so that they can continue to point to them. For the Republicans, the way to fix a website glitch is to close the company.

    Republicans point to the website glitches as an example of the problems unique to government as opposed to private enterprise, ignoring that private enterprises were involved in making it, and also that we would not even have websites or the internet without government.

  3. says

    Nihilismus “Republicans point to the website glitches as an example of the problems unique to government as opposed to private enterprise, ignoring that private enterprises were involved in making it…”
    Sure, but the company involved has someone in it who went to Princeton at the same time as Michelle Obame. And both belong to the Black Alumni Association (and you know what that means…).
    These are both important points, for some reason.

    “…and also that we would not even have websites or the internet without government.”
    Yes, government helped lay the groundwork for it, but it took the Job Creators of Private Industry to make it a success, by filling it with nudity and gambling!

  4. raven says

    The rollout was a fiasco.

    1. I’m supposed to help someone who isn’t too proficient on the internet look at their state’s ACA web site.

    On October 1st, the site was up but not working. They said end of October, which I took to mean, maybe end of October. Part of it is now working, part is not. No one knows when it will be fixed.

    I’d complain if it would do any good but it isn’t going to help them code faster so why bother.

    2. OTOH, this will end up being a minor event in a few months. Web sites go buggy, web sites get fixed, can’t explain that.

    3. We really won’t know for a few years how well the ACA is working. It’s new and these programs take time to get up and running. A good number of the target population for the ACA probably doesn’t even have internet access, e.g. older, less educated, low income people.

  5. carlie says

  6. colnago80 says

    I have had extensive experience in developing large software packages for a government agency and I can state without fear of contradiction that the “finished” products never work right out of the box. Only after much testing which may take months if not years will the serious bugs be flushed out. This is yet another example of the Rethuglican ignorance of technology.

    Anybody remember Windows ME, Windows Vista, and Windows 8? Three giant turkeys. Even Windows XP, which was a half way decent operating system, which I used to run several years ago, had, by the time I switched to Apple, 3 service packs and innumerable updates.

  7. Michael Heath says

    I empathize with the Obama Administration regarding the software challenges. I’ve been able to work through those challenges, all it took me was patience.

    What’s inexcusable is the horrid customer support one gets on simple technical and FAQ-type matters, both in Chat and by phone. The people I dealt with weren’t merely untrained, they were also idiots.

  8. says

    I can’t speak for anyone else’s experience.

    I got a letter from the VA that said, in short:

    “you’re covered already, you needn’t do anything and IF you want to, knock yourself out but you are ineligible for any subsidies because you’re already covered. Did we tell you that you are already covered?”

    VA uses focus groups when that sort of thing is sensible and necessary; in this case it was wasn’t.

    I expect at some point in the process we will find out about denial of service attacks launched by folks with an axe to grind.

  9. ImaginesABeach says

    I worked for a call center for my State’s Medicaid program when Medicare Part D came out. Suddenly we have poor seniors unable to get their prescription drugs, because the law creating Part D said that Medicaid couldn’t pay for drugs for Medicare-eligible people. These were actual vulnerable people who actually lost access to life-saving medications. We got through that, we will get through this.

  10. Rip Steakface says

    I’d like to note that most states have their own individual exchanges, which for the most part, also had issues, but are working just fine. Here in Washington, and oddly enough, in Kentucky as well (just an example of a blue state compared with a relatively purple state) the health care exchange website works just dandy, and is much easier than healthcare.gov in the first place. You don’t have to sign up to look through available plans, you just have to give some basic information (age and sex of all household members and whether they’re dependents or a spouse, smoking/non-smoking, and income) and you’ll get a list of plans with their pricing.

    The cheapest available one for my family is a fairly affordable $135 a month. It’s not that fantastic ($6k deductible, bronze “metal rating,” so only 60% of costs are paid, however that works with the deductible and out of pocket limit), but it’s a helluva lot better than paying 100% of the costs.

  11. says

    Anyone who is surprised by early glitches for a rollout like this have never built a complicated web or tried to play an MMORPG during the first few months after launch.

  12. eamick says

    She noted that the rollout of Social Security was a massive boondoggle because of the difficulty of signing up 26 million people for the program in a year without the help of computers.

    And this incident didn’t exactly help.

Leave a Reply