Does Obamacare Site Issues Indicate the Program is a Failure?

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Lost in the shuffle of the national reality show that was the 2013 Government Shutdown, the Republicans’ main bogeyman—the Affordable Care Act or ACA—began the major phase of its implementation. The healthcare exchanges, where Americans without healthcare or those looking for a new insurance policy, went live via a website and was soon plagued with too-high server traffic and software issues. Since the launch, the White House has kept specific enrollment numbers very close to their chests and have instead focused attention on the site issues and their efforts to repair them.

Reports by both CNN and The Atlantic, attempt to breakdown the numbers that are available to determine if the site—and with it the public image of the entire ACA—is failing. For the ACA to actively bring down healthcare costs, insurers are depending on a massive enrollment of healthy, young Americans who might not otherwise have purchased coverage. In a tweet from Ryan Lizza, political reporter for The New Yorker, he said, “[r]ight now, exchanges are perfectly designed to attract the sickest people and repel the healthiest. Exactly the opposite of what’s needed.”

CNN reports align with The Atlantic’s when it comes to applications filed – 841,000 applications have been filed across the country – but The Atlantic takes it a step further to see how many have actually enrolled in insurance plans. They deem it a failure thus fare because there are “fewer than 50,000 confirmed enrollments” in new insurance plans.

However there are other factors to consider. Many of the healthiest Americans will not sign up until closer to the deadline according to estimates. Also, the site issues—which can take weeks to repair—are still preventing many applicants from completing the three-step process. There are also problems with communication between the federal and state-run exchanges. In all actuality, we won’t have a clear picture of the ACA’s effectiveness until after the December 15 enrollment deadline.