I've been really pissed off about healthcare.gov lately. No, not the buggy website. No, not the confusing questions. No, not the confusing coverage. I've been pissed off about its media coverage and the political debate surrounding it.
The media has been criticizing Obama and his healthcare plan for more than a month now and its unfair. A role out of a website this big was sure to have some glitches and to be fair healthcare.gov had plenty of those. From my experience and the media's story, it sounded like a simple lack of capacity problem. The project managers didn't expect peak coverage to be what it was. Of course, as a technology professional, I shouldn't expect the media to understand that big projects almost always have problems. Except that the media reported the massive problems with the Denver International Airport Baggage System and Boston's Big Dig (people died in the Big Dig). In this age of 24 hour news, it seems that the media's memory is about 15 seconds long.
Even worse is the way that Republicans handled healthcare.gov. They tried to sink it and now are arguing that it doesn't work. First they obstructed it—attempting again and again to repeal it. Think that uncertainty had any effect on the project plan? Then they refused to pass any minor technical corrections to the bill. These corrections are a common practice in Congress. They make sure that laws that are passed work properly. Whether or not you, as an American citizen, like an individual bill, you still want it implemented in a way that will cause the fewest problems, right? Well, not the Republicans. They then claimed that the technical problems were evidence that the plan didn't work. That's like saying that online shopping doesn't work because Amazon.com goes down for a while. The logic is flawed.>
I recently signed up for healthcare through healthcare.gov and I must say that it isn't the easiest process in the world, but it isn't the most difficult ever. Most of the difficulty is justified by security, identification, and financial concerns. I would say that the workflow is pretty well implemented.
Still there were some confusing parts. The first time through the application, I thought I had finished, but couldn't actually buy healthcare. I called the helpline. A lovely woman named Serena answered my call within 1 minute. She walked me through the process. It turned out I had missed some questions. I was then approved for a state subsidized plan at a cheap rate.
All in all, I am pretty happy with the experience.
A lot of things don't work in the government. Congress is thoroughly broken. It is more focused on obstructing the other guy than getting anything done. The state agencies are horrible. State administered unemployment, food stamps, and welfare offices are difficult beyond belief. But of course no one cares about that because only poor people have to suffer through that bureaucratic hell. It's nice to know that something in this government works: healthcare.gov. And it's a good thing that I found good healthcare through the system because this hypocrisy is making me sick.