Obamacare’s Rocky Rollout: What Happens Now?

A terrible rollout of the sign-up system for the Affordable Care Act. We’ll ask why, and what it’s going to take to fix it.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius arrives before President Barack Obama speaks during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House on the initial rollout of the health care overhaul on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 in Washington. (AP)

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius arrives before President Barack Obama speaks during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House on the initial rollout of the health care overhaul on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 in Washington. (AP)

Go to today, and the home page pops right up.  The photos are great.  The message is very appealing:  Affordable health care coverage available here!  Come and get it!  But dig on in and you will very likely hit the wall and the snags that have snarled and stymied sign-up for Affordable Care Act coverage – Obamacare – since the day the exchanges opened, October 1.  It’s has been a mess on the federal site.  Botched.  Now there’s a “tech surge” on to fix it, we’re told.  There had better be.  The stakes are over the moon.  Up next On Point:  Obamacare’s rugged rollout, and where it goes.

— Tom Ashbrook


Jenny Gold, healthcare reporter for Kaiser Health News. (@JennyAGold)

Jonathan Cohn, senior editor at The New Republic, covering public policy and politics. Author of “Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis — And The People Who Pay the Price.” (@CitizenCohn)

Armando Fox, professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley.

Gene Cronin, vice president of marketing at Priority Health of Michigan. (@PriorityHealth)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Health Website Woes Widen As Insurers Get Wrong Data — “Emerging errors include duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children, missing data fields and suspect eligibility determinations, say executives at more than a dozen health plans. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska said it had to hire temporary workers to contact new customers directly to resolve inaccuracies in submissions. Medical Mutual of Ohio said one customer had successfully signed up for three of its plans.”

The New Republic: The Truth About the Obamacare Rollout — “HHS is working feverishly to make improvements and the system’s performance has improved incrementally. But people are still getting hung up at the initial stages, which means they never get the chance to apply for financial assistance and shop for plans. A study following web traffic showed a sharp drop-off in users at each successive stage of the online application process, which suggests the system was stopping a lot of people from moving forward. And that’s just the part of the system visible to consumers. Insurers say that the system is producing some incorrect information about the few people who make it through the process—a fixable problem, for sure, but a warning that other flaws may yet lurk undetected.”

Washington Post: We know 476,000 Obamacare applications have started. We don’t know how many will finish shopping — “Measuring enrollment is a difficult proposition. Most health insurance plans don’t count shoppers as enrolled until they’ve actually submitted a check for their first month’s premium. That means they’re entitled to start using the benefits of that health plan come Jan. 1, when any coverage purchased on the marketplace right now starts.”

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