Congratulations to New York Times writers Lizette Alvarez and Jennifer Preston. They managed to write an upbeat article about the "vastly improved' Obamacare website without mentioning not one but two huge elephants in the room.
The writers bubble over with excitement over the fact that in the first week of December, 112,000 people "selected plans" at the HealthCare.gov website. Left unsaid was the fact that there is still no payment system on that website plus the fact that anybody providing their personal information is at extreme risk of having his personal information hacked due to the fact that HealthCare.gov continues to lack security. However, such "minor" details are conveniently ignored as the Times writers provide us with happy talking points:
A little over a week after the deadline that President Obama gave for fixing the federal health care exchange, the system is definitely working better, according to consumers and navigators interviewed in several states. The technical errors that had bedeviled visitors to the site for weeks seemed to have been tamed by the patchwork of hardware and software fixes ordered by the administration, and applicants were finally selecting health care plans under the president’s new law, the Affordable Care Act. By last week, the number of applicants who dropped a plan into their virtual grocery carts was climbing at a rapid clip.
A rapidly increasing number of applicants with plans in their "virtual grocery carts?" Pardon me for being a killjoy but without a payment system on the ObamaCare website how do those applicants even pay for their plans by the Dec. 23 deadline?
The writers do pause briefly from their website paean to describe some small bumps on the road to Obamacare Nirvana:
Still, the interviews indicated, some technical obstacles persist. After shoppers clicked all the way to the plans, for example, the system was not letting some people actually choose one. In other cases, people were asked to try again later.
Improved entry into the online marketplace has also exposed a new layer of problems and confusion for applicants who are suddenly finding their efforts to buy insurance delayed by requirements that they provide proof of identity or citizenship or that they wait for determinations on Medicaid eligibility.
Um, needing to wait to provide proof of identity could be a blessing in disguise since the applicant risks having his ID and personal information stolen due to a lack of security on the website. Just how bad is this lack of security? A few quotes from the UK Daily Mail provide some frightening insight:
David Kennedy, a former NSA analyst whose company TrustedSec is hired by big companies to test the security of their computer systems, told CNBC that the Obamacare website is a worst-case online scenario.
'It's really hard to go back and fix the security around it because security wasn't built into it,' Kennedy said. 'We're talking multiple months to over a year to at least address some of the critical-to-high exposures on the website itself.'
Morgan Wright, CEO of Crowd Sourced Investigations, went further, saying that the entire Affordable Care Act enrollment website should be scrapped and rebuilt from scratch with a proper security backbone in place.
'There's not a plan to fix this that meets the sniff test of being reasonable,' said Wright.
So there is no current way to pay for insurance from the ObamaCare website plus your personal information is at great risk of being hacked by the unscrupulous but, hey, why spoil the NYT party mood? Let us return to their ObamaCare celebration:
For the most part, though, the news for the beleaguered online exchange, which serves 36 states, is improving. Since early December, the federal exchange website has run without crashing, officials said. In the first week of December, about 112,000 people selected plans — compared with about 100,000 in all of November and only 27,000 in October. Last week, more than half a million people created accounts on the federal website, according to people familiar with the health care project.
Technical experts involved with the exchange said they are now preparing for a surge of applications before Dec. 23, the enrollment deadline to receive coverage by the first of the year. Although those preparations will require some significant changes to the system, the work will be easier now that the site seems stable during heavy use, the experts said.
WHEEEE!!! However, amidst the party atmosphere was this tiny bit of a downer towards the end which was the only allusion to the fact that no HealthCare.gov payment system even exists:
And while some people remain puzzled about the process, wondering why, for instance, they must wait to be billed by insurers instead of being able to pay for their insurance online àla Amazon, things were significantly better.
And that could be a long wait since the backend problems of the ObamaCare haven't really been fixed since errors were reported on at least 10% of the 834 transmissions which provide the (hacked?) information to the insurance companies. In the meantime, let us celebrate together with the Times reporters all those plans that continue to remain in the virtual grocery carts.