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Chill out on healthcare web site

by Eric Ferguson on October 21, 2013

Chicken-Little01You’d think this wouldn’t need saying, but healthcare.gov is not the entire Affordable Care Act. It’s an important part, but just a part, so to the liberals freaking out, trying chilling instead. I’m looking at you, Ezra Klein. “Either the Web site will be fixed in a reasonable time frame, and the law will work, or it won’t be fixed and the law will begin to fail.” No. The web site will get fixed. That it didn’t work on October 1 is disappointing, but pretty much what I expected, and no, that isn’t because it’s a government web site built by the lowest bidder, though I’m sure that has something to do with it. Nor do I have some inside knowledge.

 

I just have enough experience and follow enough tech news to know web sites are done on time pretty much never. OK, the small sites I’ve built freelance are on time, but that’s because I have the experience to know that if you think it will take a month, insist on two — because there’s always something. In larger environments though, either private or public sector, I’ve never seen a target date that was realistic. They always get pushed back, and sometimes it’s a bit embarrassing if there was publicity for it, but here’s the key difference: those target dates weren’t freaking laws! Bad PR is the worst the private sector risks when web sites aren’t ready. OK, maybe somebody sues somebody else over something, but outside the interested parties, nobody cares.
 

The October 1 debut of healthcare.gov was enshrined in law — a huge tech project enshrined in law, brilliant. It presumably didn’t help that Republican state governments, which supposedly wanted to build their own exchanges because “big government blah blah blah”, opted not to build their own exchanges in order to sabotage Obamacare, and congrats red governors, it worked. Still, healthcare.gov is going to work, the embarrassment will fade, the inside story will come out and only techies will care (“Would you believe critical component X went out with no testing?” “Yes, we rather guessed.”). Republicans will claim the whole ACA is a huge failure, which is exactly what they were going to say no matter what, so who cares what they say. By this time next year, a whole lot of people are going to have insurance who otherwise wouldn’t, and a lot of people buying minimal policies on the individual market will be getting better coverage at an affordable. Everyone except those caught in the Supreme Court’ Medicaid hole are going to know that we’ll be able to get insurance even without an employer who offers it, we wont be cut off if we get sick, we won’t be denied for a pre-existing condition, and we won’t find ourselves facing a lifetime with a debilitating problem with no insurance because we hit a lifetime limit.
 

So can we get to something substantive, like closing the Supreme Court’s Medicaid hole?

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