A majority of Americans disapprove of President Obama’s signature legislation, and their frustrations only increased due to the terrible launch of the program. While every side seems to have their own version of events, the disastrous launch of the healthcare.gov highlights serious underlying issues with the healthcare mandate.
After the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was enacted in 2009, the President commissioned the Center for Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services to contract the building of the website. If states did not want to set up their own health exchanges then the federal government was tasked with building a central portal as a default.
After enactment, thirty-six states declined to take part in any type of state exchange. Any eligible residents of those states needed to use the default federal site to purchase new plans and receive subsidies. The government agencies responsible for the website spent $515 million dollars over three years.
The website was supposed to launch on October 1st 2013 with minor kinks in usability due to internet traffic expected. In reality, the Canadian tech contractor used by the administration designed a completely inoperable and frozen product.
Finger pointing between the administration and the contractor about why the crash happened consumed much of the political air-time, even while serious issues still plague the rollout. For instance, both the call center representatives and consumers applying on paper had to submit information through the same website portal. Limited website functionality prevented all but a lucky few consumers from applying. Furthermore, there were concerns about the safety of individual health records and personal information. Scam artists manipulated the confusion by lurking with false URLs and other phishing hacks to surreptitiously gain access to personal bank and health accounts.
Where we go from here?
Individual opinions on the healthcare mandate aside, it’s clear government contracting is rife with serious problems. We should be greatly concerned by the millions of dollars spent on a digital dud when a couple tech geeks in their 20’s can do the exact same thing almost for free. The administration failed to effectively manage their most important policy launch, highlighting the need for more focused, critical evaluation of the actions of bureaucrats.
Even with the website up and running, more serious problems are yet to reach the headlines.