Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Obamacare website on the mend

By Frank Moraes

Jonathan Chait has written a welcome salve for us liberals still bothered by the problems that have
plagued the Healthcare.gov website, Obamacare Hyperventilation to Continue Forever! It is important to remember the "dog bites man" aspect of modern journalism. Things that don't go wrong are not news. Thus we hear about what's going wrong with Obamacare and completely miss everything that is going right with it.

Chait mentions any number of the "right" things. Perhaps the biggest thing is that Obamacare has been in effect for years. It is only the exchanges that are six weeks old. And these other parts have been going really well. Healthcare costs have been lower than expected. People with preexisting conditions have been able to get insurance. And kids have been able to stay on their parents policies. Even since the rollout of the exchanges, things have gone pretty well. People are signing up for the Medicaid expansion at a good clip. The state run exchanges are working really well. And the website is getting fixed.

The main point of his article is that it just isn't true that Democrats are abandoning Obamacare. It is all just wishful thinking on the part of conservatives with a major assist by the mainstream press who would just love the feeding frenzy of an actual Democratic Party war. After the coverage of the supposed civil war in the Republican Party, you would think that everyone would just calm down. But no. And in a couple of months it will be like it never happened.

Of course, the issues with the Healcare.gov website remain. I wrote beforethat given what I know about software development, it is only about now that we would start to see the system get better. Well, it turns out that we areseeing the website get better. On Friday, Elise Viebeck at The Hill reported,Official: HealthCare.gov Errors Below One Percent. According to the article, the website can now handle between 20,000 and 25,000 users at one time. That is an enormous increase from last month. I don't think most people appreciate just how good that news is. It mean that almost certainly the website will be working well by the end of the month.

The main thing is that Obamacare is moving forward. I don't see it stopping. Because computer software is mysterious from the outside, there has been a tendency to assume that the website problems couldn't be fixed. And it certainly didn't help that the process of fixing bugs requires a lot of start-up effort that doesn't produce apparent results. But now that we are at the point where improvements are noticeable, I think even the media narratives will change. And the conservatives can go back to their standard lines about Obamacare being socialism and the end of all that is good in America.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)


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