“Well, Facebook Wasn’t Built In a Day.” – Unnamed Exchange Developer.
More than 4.8 million users visited Healthcare.gov for the grand opening of the federal health insurance marketplace on Tuesday, according to officials.
It didn’t go quite as planners had hoped. In fact, if there was an unofficial word of the day, it was glitch.
Many users of Healthcare.gov reported long delays and difficulty accessing the federal insurance marketplace, experiencing “glitches” ranging from error messages to blank pages. The problems were repeated at state-run exchanges around the country to varying degree, from California to New York.
Pundits like Wonkblog’s Ezra Klein were quick to point out that the political victory the GOP might have gained from the uncertain start was largely lost in the uproar in Washington over the government shutdown, which dominated news reports.
At least one frustrated user chronicled the experience (see related post ‘Descent into Madness: One Man’s Visit to Healthcare.gov, October 1st ). Others took to Twitter to express their outrage or show off their savage or finely-tuned senses of humor.
Users of the federal exchange reported problems including error messages (see above), funky dropdown menu behavior, page freezes, blips, broken links and long page load times — generally either a sign of high volume or inelegantly designed databases.
HHS officials declined to reveal how many people signed up for new insurance plans overall, leading some theorists to speculate that not very many people were able to make it through the process successfully. In point of fact, there were suspiciously few reports of users successfully completing the registration process at all, probably not a very good sign and possibly an indication of a disaster.Continue reading…
Innovare may be Latin for innovate, but the values at Innovare Health Advocates are traditional: An “Old School” commitment to delivering “Healthcare the Way it Ought to Be.”
The Missouri-based health practice is run by Dr. Charles Willey, a staunch tea party conservative who’s been mentored by former Sen. Jim Talent, one of his patients. “I’ve personally, for a long time, been interested in politics,” he told a radio show in 2010, noting that he’d been leading efforts “to get doctors excited about resisting Obamacare.”
But Willey’s doing more than just resisting the health law these days — he’s become an active player in Halbig et al v. Sebelius, a lawsuit that threatens a key element in the Affordable Care Act: Whether the tax subsidies slated to help many Americans purchase coverage through many insurance exchanges are even legal under the ACA’s language.
(Innovare Health is one of the small businesses that has joined the suit.)
And the stakes are higher than most people realize, according to Michael Greve, a law professor at George Mason University.
“If the statute means what it says, Obamacare’s machinery simply doesn’t apply in half the country,” Greve contends.
“This is for all the marbles.”
Law’s Language a Sticking Point
Conservative scholars say it’s obvious in the text of the Affordable Care Act, right as rain. (Italics added by columnist.)
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Last week, I received my weekly email update from the Maryland health insurance exchange:
Maryland Health Connection completed its Final Detailed Design Review (FDDR) live system demo on Thursday, May 30. The FDDR is a federal stage-gate required of all state-based exchanges. Maryland Health Connection successfully demonstrated end-to-end enrollment of a split family scenario including user log in, eligibility determination, real-time data verification through the Federal Data Services Hub, enrollment into plans, payment and file generation to be sent to an insurance carrier. This major information technology milestone received high marks by federal partners. We will continue with development of Maryland Health Connection over the next several weeks and begin user acceptance testing in July.
This report tells us a few things.
First, the Maryland health insurance exchange is on track to launch on time and ready to serve all comers. I continue to be impressed by how well this state-run health insurance exchange is working toward implementing the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) on October 1, 2013.
Second, apparently the Federal Data Hub is up and running. While that is what the Obama administration has been telling us, it has been hard to find anyone who has actually seen it or used it.
Third, Maryland has its system ready to exchange eligibility and premium information with the health insurance plans––perhaps the biggest challenge the new exchanges, state or federal, face.
Across the country, I am not so worried that consumers will have a website to go to on October 1 in order to shop for the new health plans as I am concerned with how things will go on January 1, 2014 when patients show up in a doctors office. If we don’t have a clean exchange of eligibility and payment information there are going to be lots of people who will have their doctor or hospital telling them they don’t know anything about their coverage.