ObamaCare fails to launch
ObamaCare apologists have been trying to claim the system suffered a near-total crash on Launch Day due to its amazing popularity – “It’s sort of a great problem to have!” chirped Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius – but that’s foolishness to anyone familiar with computer systems, not to mention anyone who looks at the actual numbers on its traffic load. The Administration is keeping one particular number very close to its vest, but Jake Tapper of CNN relayed a few others from the White House via Twitter: “4.7 million unique visitors to ObamaCare website, 133k calls, 104k web chats requested.”
That’s not very overwhelming for a decent commercial website, never mind a gigantic government system three years in the making, at a cost of billions of dollars. The people who saddled us with ObamaCare claimed, at various times, there were 15, 30, 47, or over 50 million uninsured pleading for relief, which only a top-down trillion-dollar bureaucratic behemoth could deliver.
So, how many people actually bought some of that spiffy new ObamaCare? Don’t ask. “The White House claims not to have a number for folks enrolled,” says Tapper. Um… but they know how many unique visitors they had? That’s what we call a bald-faced lie where I come from. A multi-billion-dollar computer system that can’t immediately tabulate the number of applications it received? If we took that seriously, it would be a good reason to bring the architects of ObamaCare up on charges, and ask them where all that time and money went. (Investigations into that delicate subject are already under way, with a billion-dollar ObamaCare contractor facing allegations of outright fraud in Britain. Our tax money is in the very best of hands!)
Naturally, if the number of people who signed up for ObamaCare was good news, it would get blasted from every TV screen immediately. In fact, if this Administration thought it could get away with lying about the number for a few days, it would do so, under the Benghazi Protocol: say whatever it takes to get through this news cycle, dismiss the whole thing as “old news” when people get wise.
Anecdotal information from state exchanges is not encouraging. Connecticut reported 28,000 visitors – that’s nothing for a mid-level commercial website – and a whopping 167 applications on Day One. Maybe the sight of the huge premium hikes they would be expected to pay – reportedly approaching 100 percent increases in some cases – scared people away. The system still managed to crash under the sort of traffic load that a custom T-shirt printing company would consider mildly disappointing.
The Florida insurance exchange was pronounced “dead as a doornail” after a frustrating day of “computer glitches, error messages, online security snags, and long wait times on a telephone hotline,” according to the Sun-Sentinel. Which teabagging anarchist suicide-bombing right-wing nut rendered that judgment? Oh, it was just the supervising attorney for Florida’s ObamaCare “navigator” program.
The Sun-Sentinel reports that many of the ObamaCare error messages claim the problem is due to “a lot of visitors on our site right now,” which is a fairly clever way of hiding the true disaster and spreading this nonsense meme about insane levels of popularity. Getting a large number of disgruntled would-be customers to hit Facebook and complain that ObamaCare has too many visitors is some great propaganda.
Many of the script errors and online form failures reported by frustrated visitors to the ObamaCare site have nothing to do with traffic levels. And they should come as no surprise, since a few of the people actually doing the grunt work of cobbling this infrastructure together have been saying it wouldn’t work very well at launch. They’ve also been warning that some of the information seen by people who did get the websites to work may not be accurate.
Very few private companies have anywhere near the precise prediction of probable customer load the ObamaCare people did. Private companies invest much effort in trying to gauge demand, but they don’t have gigantic reams of stats from an immense government bureaucracy telling them exactly how many people might be interested in using their service. And, of course, they don’t have ObamaCare-scale budgets and manpower to prepare. But they can generally manage to handle four or five million unique visitors and process web forms. There are online computer games, created with vastly lower budgets, that can handle five million players exploring complex virtual spaces and engaging in real-time simulated combat. That’s far more complex than getting some personal details and coughing up an insurance estimate.
ObamaCare’s failure is a disgrace, and possibly a crime, once we learn where all that money went. The efforts to spin it away are pathetic. President Obama’s health-care takeover is often mocked as “medicine administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles,” but that’s really unfair to the DMV, which manages something like 195 million licenses. Maybe that ObamaCare money should have been spent to bring in experienced data managers from commercial operations and experienced agencies like the DMV, instead of laundering it out to ACORN and other liberal interest groups.
Then again, why should anyone involved with a supposedly permanent, irrevocable program, backed with piles of tax money and unlimited debt, care whether the program crashed on Day One? What are any of you serfs going to do about it? Take your business elsewhere?
Update: A howler from the New York Times, which tries to soft-pedal the epic ObamaCare launch disaster by comparing it to another government program:
Officials said Wednesday that the federal exchange Web site, healthcare.gov, had 4.7 million unique visitors in its first 24 hours — many times as many as had ever visited, for example, the Medicare Web site in a single day — and that 190,000 people called the government call centers for the program. They said 104,000 visitors requested Web chats with enrollment counselors.
But reports by government officials, consumers and private groups designated as “navigators” to help consumers use the system all indicated that relatively few people were able to establish accounts, and fewer still were able to go beyond that step to shop and compare plans. Even fewer were able to apply for coverage.
Golly, you mean a government program established and built up decades before the invention of the public Internet had less traffic than a program launched in 2013 by the most allegedly hip, tech-savvy president evah? (Wouldn’t it be nice if ObamaCare handled data as well as Obama’s fund-raising team?)
I have a growing suspicion that the “4.7 million unique visitors” metric is a stat that’s going to Benghazi its way right out of this story before too long. This system was bungled so badly that its ability to track unique visitors is deeply suspect. A lot of those “unique visitors” are going to end up being people who got bounced out of the system and tried to get back in a few times before they gave up in frustration. The Times concedes there was a lot of that going around:
“That I know of, none of our people got through on the system,” said Matthew Hayes, who is running the navigator program at Legal Action of Wisconsin, a state using a federally run exchange.
In another state using the federal system, Jill Hanken, project director for Enroll Virginia, said members of her team were able to help some people set up accounts, and even enroll in health plans, but that most attempts failed. “The system was obviously pretty overloaded,” she said.
It doesn’t take many people to “overload” a system if it’s designed badly enough. Keep that in mind when the same officials pronouncing themselves “pleased” with this disaster have your life in their hands.
Update: Another riveting testimonial to the incredible popularity of ObamaCare comes from Louisiana, where the number of Affordable Care Act customers reported by the state’s largest insurance company, Blue Cross / Blue Shield, stands at… zero.
Update: The California exchange got busted for “vastly overstating the number of online hits it received Tuesday during the rollout of ObamaCare,” as reported by the L.A. Times. The Covered California website got a mere 645,000 hits, not the 5 million they originally claimed… and even that piddling traffic was enough to make it crash completely. A spokesman for the exchange blamed the false web traffic numbers on “internal miscommunication.”
ObamaCare officials are now attempting to claim that they won’t be able to produce enrollment figures until next month. Obama grabbed billions of our dollars to build a system that needs a month to compile a simple dally of applicants, but can supposedly produce unique-visitor totals instantly? Why is any reporter in America willing to believe that, and will they cover the inevitable House Oversight hearings to get to the bottom of it? Oh, well, as always with this fraud of an Administration, all that matters is getting through the next news cycle.
The ObamaCare master server must look something like this:
Update: The New York exchange coughed up another fishy, unverifiable number of hits that sounds suspiciously close to the phony California number – New York claims 30 million hits, which if true would mean they got over 45 times as much traffic as California! – but claims a total of actual applicants is “not available.”
Update: Reporters have not been able to find a single successful ObamaCare applicant in Texas.
Guess what happens if you try to spell out the ObamaCare hotline phone number with the letters on your phone keypad? HUMAN EVENTS is a family-friendly website, so you’ll have to click here for the answer. Thousands of bureaucrats spending billions of dollars on the ObamaCare boondoggle, and nobody ever noticed this?
Update: Local news station WSMV couldn’t find anyone who signed up for ObamaCare in Tennessee, either.
Update: TRIUMPH! Blue Cross / Blue Shield of North Carolina reports successfully enrolling one person in ObamaCare! We take you now to the control room of the ObamaCare master server for a musical celebration of this stunning achievement…