October 1st, 2013
A funny thing happened when I went to sign up for ObamaCare this morning. I couldn't! The official site at HealthCare.gov just referred me over to California's web site for their own Health Exchange. And it was so overloaded with traffic that it was impossible to sign up!
Apparently it didn't take a government shutdown to end Obamacare, because ObamaCare imploded all by itself — at least for today — just because so many different people wanted it. (I guess the lesson is that to overwhelm a government-funded health insurance exchange — it takes a village.) I'm actually relieved that I'm not the only one who's having a problem. Today it was my state's web site that's sick!
In fact, Google News is already showing stories about web sites being overloaded on the first day of ObamaCare in Maryland, Texas, Illinois, and Indiana. "The opening of state- and federal-run insurance marketplaces Tuesday saw a combination of huge interest and balky technology," reported USA Today, "that led to a series of glitches, delays and even crashes that marred the first hours of the centerpiece of President Obama's health law..." Within minutes, the stock market had tanked and — no, wait. Actually, the stock market was up today. Neither the government shutdown nor the launch of ObamaCare deterred investors who remained bullish on America, oblivious to the inability of a few state-run web sites to handle an unexpectedly high number of visitors.
They all have another 19 weeks to sign up for the insurance anyways — which also won't actually go into effect until January 1st. The deadline is December 15th if you want your insurance to be active on January 1st, and March 31st if you want your ObamaCare to be effective in 2014. But millions of Americans apparently didn't want to wait for either of those sign-up deadlines — they wanted to sign up on the program's very first day. "There were five times more users in the marketplace this morning than have ever been on Medicare.gov at one time," President Obama announced from the White House's Rose Garden, adding "That gives you a sense of how important this is to millions of Americans around the country." Later in the week, it was even revealed that at one point, 250,000 differently people were simultaneously trying to access the web site, and that within its first four days, the site had been accessed by a whopping 8.1 million people
"And that's a good thing," the President argued Tuesday about the throngs who wanted to access these online exchanges for health insurance. Citing a demand "that exceeds anything that we had expected," he promised they'd be speeding up the web sites soon, and compared the glitches to the problems Apple had releasing their iOS 7 operating system. "Within days they found a glitch — so they fixed it.
"I don't remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or Ipads, or threatening to shut down company if they didn't. That's not how we do things in America. We don't actively root for failure. We get to work, we make things happen, we make 'em better.
"We keep going."
Even if Microsoft does try to copy our look and feel...
You can watch video of President Obama's press conference at CBS's site — if you're willing to sit through a dog food commercial first. But in the end I'm guessing that it doesn't really matter what any politician (or any dog) says about the health insurance exchanges, simply because America is already more polarized than any time in the last 70 years... So liberals voters will still be cheering. ("Yeah! ObamaCare is so popular, they can't keep up with the overwhelming demand!") And conservative voters will probably point to this as vindicating all their early warnings about the program. ("It looks like the government can't even run a freaking web site. So how can we trust them to administer a complex health insurance system...?!")
UPDATE: Sunday, October 6th. Originally this article ended on a discouraged note. ("It's going to be a while before I can get cheap government-sponsored healthcare, like the happy Asian couple on the ObamaCare web site...")
But I feel like it's important to add this update. 24 hours later, I went back to California's health exchange site — and it was running just fine, and I was able to log in and purchase insurance on the health exchange after all. And because I qualified for a government subsidy, the health insurance was over $1,500 a year cheaper than what I'm currently paying for health insurance. And it's going to cover a lot more of my medical bills.
Plus, the site made it easier to shop for health insurance. I had something like 19 choices, and they were sorted automatically with the cheapest ones first. The site was even able to calculate my monthly premiums automatically based on my own unique answers to how many prescriptions and doctor visits I thought I'd be needing each year — something I never got when I purchased healthcare from my employer. And I'm not the only one giving the site a positive review. USA Today made essentially the same point, arguing that what most people "don't know is how cheap the insurance is," and noting that a single 40-year-old non-smoker could easily save over $2,000 a year. And they also applauded the site for being easy and simple to use. So for me, the bottom line is I'm getting better coverage at a cheaper cost — and that signing up for it was surprisingly easy. So yes, while there were some glitches on Day One of ObamaCare...
Day Two was terrific!