This website is reputed to have cost $600 million to develop (well, maybe not that much), and it's a disaster. It freezes, people can't get through the signup procedure after hours of toil, the determined folks wake up at 4:30am to sign up, etc.
Some have said that this shows how ridiculous it is for the federal government to be involved in healthcare. Well, that's nonsense for two clear reasons. 1)Government is already involved a lot of healthcare like Medicare, Medicaid, federal employee healthcare, VA healthcare, and Tricare, among others. 2)It's a computer system problem. Any problems with the political philosophy are completely separate.
And it is a whale of a computer system problem. Kathleen Sebelius, the cabinet secretary in charge of the program, deserves to lose her job. She should have been all over this program making sure it was on-track. Obviously she didn't do her job. Whoever she had in charge of supervising the program also deserves to lose his job. This is a major cock-up, and I don't accept excuses. As someone who has been involved with computer systems since 1976, I can tell you that more difficult programs than this have been successful completed.
Sebelius will probably get to keep her job because it's too damn hard for her replacement to go through confirmation hearings--which is a reflection of a different area of dysfunction in the government. I hope she will be firing others in the department she oversees. I doubt this will happen either because continued employment is the best bribe she can pay to prevent them from revealing the government mismanagement.
The dream team of system wizards who are now working on the site will probably do a decent job of fixing it. I've seen other crappy programs (cough, Microsoft Word, cough) fixed well enough. But this debacle will be a lasting reminder of the incompetence of part of the Obama administration... or if you prefer, of all of the Obama administration.
Extra. Some of the trouble was due to a decision to protect users from sticker shock:
Some (most?) policies cost so much that users need to be numbed by excessive bureaucratic form-filing before they see the cost. Not really--but it's best if they see the subsidized cost, not the true cost of the policy. That just shows they are moochers... unlike the rest of us who just don't know what healthcare really costs.Sebelius ... didn’t discuss her department’s now-criticized decision not to let online visitors shop around before creating accounts. Aides have said they wanted consumers to avoid experiencing “sticker shock” ... -- Dallas Morning News