Jon Stewart is becoming a problem for Obamacare, but it’s not really his fault.
The federal exchange is a clusterfrack. As I’ve written before, it’s not just that the site doesn’t work. A big part of the problem is HOW the site works.
For example, the DC exchange is simple as pie. You create a username, and a password, and that’s pretty much it. It asks you a few questions it needs in order to figure out how much the plans are, and whether you might be eligible for a subsidy, and voila, you can browse the plans to your heart’s content.
The federal exchange, not so much. As you may recall, a number of states have either opted out of the exchanges, or haven’t gotten theirs ready yet, so for the citizens of those states, they’ll use the federal exchange. The problem is that the layout of the federal exchange, and the absurd hoops you have to go through to even browse the policies available, make it extremely difficult to actually see any plans.
One big problem I noted early on was there was no “browse plans” button on the federal site. The only option you had was to “apply” for plans. But of course, no one wants to “apply” if they haven’t found a plan yet. But putting that aside for a moment, there finally now is a “see plans now” button on the home page. Good for them. But still bad for us. If you click that button, you’re taken through a variety of pages that finally ends up showing you the names of various plans, their prices, but no information about what the plans actually do, or cover. So you have a title and a price. Which is pretty much useless.
And then, if you want to find out what the plans actually do – you guessed it – you need to “fill out an application.” But I don’t want to apply for coverage, I simply want to find out what the coverage is, what it covers, then decide if I want to apply. (And remember, the other time I decided to “apply” anyway, it asked me to upload identity documents, which was ridiculous.)
Why is this so difficult to understand?
The problem isn’t just coding. It’s the person who designed this site, and probably more importantly, the person in charge of making the final decisions about design. Meaning, some brainiac in the federal government decided that we shouldn’t let people know what policies really exist until we get all sorts of information from them, like their home address and home phone. Don’t believe me? Look what happened when I clicked the button to “apply” this time around, so I could get the actual details on the plans I was trying to browse. I got this:
Yes, in order to simply window show for Obamacare plans they need to basically run a credit check on you. Why? Who knows. The DC exchange didn’t need to verify my identity in order to give me the details and prices of the various plans available to me. So why is the federal site requiring such things? There is absolutely no sound reason why state exchange sites don’t require this kind of security, but the federal one does.
The problem with the federal exchange site goes far beyond the software code. The site was designed by an idiot. That idiot might work for one of the firms that made a lot of money building this thing, or might work for the federal government (basically, some senior official who apparently thought it wasn’t wise to actually let people browse plans easily). Whatever the reason, the fix needs to do far more than just tweak the code. It needs to give people easy access to any plans, in any state, without having to undergo the third degree, and without checking their credit history.
Here’s Jon Stewart’s 3-part take on the latest