You’ve probably seen the numbers by now; in the first twenty-four hours of availability, the federal website for the Affordable Care Act managed to enroll just six people out of over four million hits. And only 248 people were able to enroll nationwide the next day. What that reporting leaves out, however, is why. And the answer is more than just government incompetence.
Here’s how the system was supposed to work: Each state had its own website, and the government would only run a handful of exchanges. And, indeed, in states where exchanges were set up on the state level, everything went great! One problem:
Obamacare’s architects assumed that most states would opt to run their own marketplaces, with federal officials running only a few. The assumption proved wrong: Pretty much any state with a Republican governor or Republican legislative control said no, adding to the administrative burden on HHS.
In other words, they basically assumed that they wouldn’t being seeing the traffic that they did, and that screwed up the website something fierce. The 14 states that did set up their websites properly aren’t having problems. Everybody else? Not so much. By the way, a lot of these states are also rejecting Medicaid funds from the government, leaving 5.2 million people uninsured. You know, because we don’t elect politicians to help the people or anything.
And yeah, the administration has to take a share of this blame. Anybody who’s observed politics over the last few years saw this one coming; the administration should have too.
Still, long-term, this is nothing more than useless obstructionism, kind of like a small child grabbing your legs to slow you down. The website will probably be up to spec sooner rather than later, and then people will start enrolling. More to the point, a lot of the states rejecting this money and refusing to build these sites are tax-negative; that is, they take more in federal dollars than they contribute in taxes. Eventually, sheer demand is going to force them to build the website and take the money. But, hey, what’s more important: The health of your citizens? Or throwing a hissy fit over a law you don’t like?