The website Healthcare.gov, center of the controversy over Obamacare.
As you may have heard by now, key features of President Obama’s healthcare reform law were set to launch on October 1. The website Healthcare.gov was to begin enrolling millions of formerly uninsured Americans in healthcare plans through online marketplaces, or “exchanges.” Only it didn’t, couldn’t. The launch sputtered, fizzled—all but crashed. Although tens of thousands of Americans did enroll, those numbers were way below expectations. The majority of people who tried to log on or navigate the website ran into technical snafus.
As a result, the prospects for the law’s long-term success are in question, and the president’s credibility has taken a severe hit. According to one recent poll, Obama’s “job approval” rating is at an all-time low of 37 percent. Obamacare, which was opposed by most Republicans from the beginning, is plagued not only by technical problems. The very complexity of the legislation—which involves the participation of numerous private-sector insurance companies, sliding-scale government subsidies, a huge state-and-federal expansion of Medicaid, and penalties (taxes, according to the Supreme Court) for noncompliance—presents real challenges even if the website gets fixed.
The Obama administration is promising to do better, to get things on track. Several major difficulties are looming, however: (1) in order to provide affordable health coverage to millions of people, the law depends on those millions of consumers being able to purchase plans; if the website doesn’t work adequately, they may be unable to do so; (2) the “rollout” of the law includes deadlines: people without insurance are supposed to buy a policy soon or be assessed the “individual mandate” tax; (3) because healthcare coverage is expensive, the law provides various levels of subsidies to people based on income, but income verification involves accessing confidential information belonging to the IRS; and (4) because the law requires all insurance plans to offer a minimum slate of benefits, many former low-cost plans no longer qualify, and as a result, millions of people have been receiving notices that their existing coverage is being canceled.
Image credit: © KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
- Could Obamacare Actually Fall Apart?
The financial-services website analyzes the prospects for the Affordable Care Act in light of its troubled launch.
(Source: Motley Fool, November 17, 2013)
- Troubled HealthCare.gov Unlikely to Work Fully by End of November
This article examines the prospects for a soon fix for Healthcare.gov; includes an infographic on the complexities of the Obamacare website.
(Source: Washington Post, November 12, 2013)
- Obamacare’s Dismal Stats
This editorial, while basically supportive of Obamacare, admits the poor enrollment numbers for the new healthcare exchanges.
(Source: Los Angeles Times, November 14, 2013)
- Obamacare, Failing Ahead of Schedule
This analysis by a conservative columnist explains how potential weaknesses in Obamacare are being exposed because of the technical difficulties with the Healthcare.gov website.
(Source: New York Times, October 19, 2013)
- Obama Was Briefed Earlier in Year on Health Website Problems
This article delves into the background of the troubled rollout of Obamacare’s online exchanges.
(Source: Chicago Tribune, November 20, 2013)