Since the launch of the Affordable Care Act’s online health insurance marketplace in October, news coverage of technical glitches, coding problems, and a dysfunctional website has been unrelenting. Pundits and politicians have been casting blame or defending the program, but what do citizens think of the Obamacare rollout? Not surprisingly, a Slate/SurveyMonkey snap poll found that most respondents are unimpressed with the glitch-prone healthcare.gov, even though few have even tried to sign up. (Information on respondents is available here. More information about SurveyMonkey Audience is here.)
Considering the avalanche of negative news following the website’s botched launch, the fact that even 13 percent of respondents considered the launch a success is a surprise. With Obama on an apology tour and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius getting lambasted everywhere from Capitol Hill to The Daily Show, 13 percent ain’t bad. The plurality, at 38 percent, thought that the launch was extremely unsuccessful, while 60 percent overall deemed the launch unsuccessful. More than a quarter of the respondents hadn’t made up their minds on the site’s success yet, possibly waiting to see whether the technical issues are resolved before giving up on it.
The impression of a failed launch is evident in the rate that people are accessing the website. Barely 10 percent of the survey’s respondents had tried to access the website, and only 22 percent knew someone who had attempted to log on. While most of the survey respondents, like most of the U.S. population, don’t need a new insurance plan, these numbers are still remarkably low.
The numbers also offered another grim verdict for healthcare.gov. Of the 46 survey respondents who had tried to buy insurance through the website, only three people successfully purchased insurance. That makes up less than 1 percent of the total sample size.
Even as President Obama has expressed anger over the implementation of his signature piece of legislation, he has not escaped blame. More respondents assigned blame solely to the president than to Sebelius, and 41 percent said Obama was at least partially to blame. Most respondents, however, pinned blame on the software engineers and programmers who built the troubled website.