Obamacare Signups Are Way Behind Schedule

A blog about business and economics.
Oct. 17 2013 10:56 AM

Obamacare Signups Are Way Behind Schedule

1382021715

Photo illustration by author.

Back on September 26, my colleague John Dickerson wrote that "On the eve of this long-fought-over moment—the day Obamacare takes affect—President Obama’s best sales tool may come down to a website: healthcare.gov."

That in turn is a powerful reminder of the fact that through the end of September key administration officials seem to have had genuinely no idea of how screwed up the technical infrastructure of the federal exchange websites was going to be. When briefing journalists about their plans to roll the program out, they were very proud of their website and felt that people were going to find it very useful and be pleasantly surprised. Today we learn from the Associated Press that the Department of Health and Human Services was targeting 500,000 signups by the end of October which seems—shall we say—unlikely at this point.

The great political irony of the past several weeks is that the government shutdown Republicans had engineered in an doomed effort to defund Obamacare was obscuring attention from a very real threat to Obamacare—the technology mostly doesn't seem to work.

Advertisement

This is the kind of thing that if it gets fixed in time, nobody will care about in 10 or 5 or even 1 year. But there really is a problem if it doesn't get fixed in time. Insurance risk pools need scale to really work, and to be viable you need to make sure you sign up plenty of youngish people who don't have acute health care needs. That was always going to be a difficult lift, but it's one the administration was very much prepared for. These technical problems, however, are throwing them off their game plan and if they persist too long will make it hard to make the numbers the program needs to succeed.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough, So They Added Self-Immolation

Why Hillary Clinton and Other Democrats Are Shrewd to Frame All Issues As “Women’s Issues”

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.