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The Two Sides of the ACA Rollout

In two separate comics, Adam Zyglis captures the irony of the rollout of the website.

Adam Zyglis
© Adam Zyglis

On one hand, the creation of a website as complicated as this will always have problems. It is silly to claim that this is some kind of inherent defect in Obamacare. I work with the web for a living, and you never get things even remotely right the first time (or the second time). Heck, Google Mail was in beta for five years, and email is far less complicated and is something we understand pretty well. But if Republicans were really concerned that Obamacare is too complicated, then a good solution would have been to just extend the existing Medicare system to everyone.

Adam Zyglis
© Adam Zyglis

On the other hand, I know some of the people who worked on the Obama’s 2008 presidential election software, and it was extremely well executed. Sure there were bugs, but overall the system worked. Some states, like New York and Washington, did manage to produce websites that worked, so we know that it is possible. What happened to the other ones? We could have done better.



  1. PatriotSGT wrote:

    For me the problem is not the website,they’ll fix that for enrollments. The problems will come with accurately identifying levels of subsidies for the estimated 30 million people who will need some level of assistance and where the money for that will come. The other issue will be the deductables, which I’m given to understand go up to 6500 for the lower tier bronze plan. I’m guessing the deductables will need to be subsidized as well. Third is the accountability of getting everyone signed up. Yeah they can pay a couple hundred in fines vs a couple thousand in premiums, but that won’t lower the cost for all if only the sick sign up. With the rampant income under reporting that exists and climate of tax avoidance the IRS will have a nightmare of enforcement and that will undoubtedly effect future elections.
    Actually, it will likely play better into the republican game plan then their current ridiculous strategy.

    Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink
  2. Hassan wrote:

    What is Booz Allen Hamilton Inc doing as contractor for it? Is data safe/private with them?

    Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink
  3. Madame LaFarge wrote:

    The Obama Election team had total control over their campaign website and strategies, and really, that was managing an extensive mailing list with people opting in and out. Conversely, the ACA has to interact with the existing sites of several agencies (IRS, SSI, Medicare, etc) as well as individual state systems (each with its own architecture), plus the proprietary systems of the insurance companies. In addition, development funding was subject to House cuts. Talk about a witch’s brew! I’m surprised it works at all.

    The biggest thing, though, was that the truth of testing failures did not filter up to Sebelius and the Prez, so at the launch they were caught flat-footed in front of the World. For that – heads should roll.

    Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink
  4. PATRIOTSGT wrote:

    Hassan – there is no safe haven for data. Virtually all data repositories have had compromises from several hundred to 100’s of thousands of records. They other vulnerabilities are human where relatively small numbers are intentionally stolen for fraud purposes. So no matter who the contractor there will be data losses, lost laptops and human error and crime. It’s imperative in todays world that people at least yearly check their credit reports for fraudulent activity.

    Madame Lafarge- you absolutely correct on the roll out. It’s almost as if someone was either intentionally trying to set leadership up or they didn’t feel they could go to leadership with a problem of that magnitude and hid it. Either way, if I was the boss somebodies head would roll.

    Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink
  5. Michael wrote:

    “Some states, like New York and Washington, did manage to produce websites that worked, so we know that it is possible. What happened to the other ones? We could have done better.”

    What do you notice about this list: California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington. Those are the states (and D.C.) that have established their own exchanges. And most are working well (MD and HI, admittedly, had problems).

    The federal site was supposed to be a back-up plan for states that were unable to get set up in time. The ACA was designed to be a good faith cooperative agreement between the states and the federal government. Instead, 34 states (almost all red states) obstinately refused to participate. It was a deliberate and coordinated effort by these states.

    I find it rather ironic that the states that refused to take responsibility and set up an exchange are dominated by the party that…wants states to have more power over governance. They had the opportunity, and yet they decided to throw a temper tantrum instead of acting like adults. We really should have just gone with the all-out, big government, single payer system from the start.

    Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Permalink
  6. ebdoug wrote:

    Our taxes in New York state are the Highest? Or next to highest. I’m happy to pay every penny. “You get what you pay for.”

    Monday, October 28, 2013 at 4:31 am | Permalink