Kind of amazing how easy it was to buy insurance through Romneycare, and how difficult through Obamacare

Today is the deadline to buy insurance for Jan. 1 through the Mass. Health Connector, set up to sell insurance after Romneycare went into effect and now allegedly set up to sell insurance under Obamacare. DB Reiff is chronicling her efforts to buy insurance. At 9:32, she tweeted:

Now person tells me that system is down for maintenance and to call later today - after 2 1/2 hrs trying.

People already on subsidized Commonwealth Care plans recently had their deadlines for signing up with new Obamacareized plans extended from this week to the end of March because of problems with the sign-up system.



      Free tagging: 


      Latest dumb GOP talking point: "insurance bailout" scare story

      "The insurance industry will need a bailout" is a ridiculous scare tactic, the latest dumb lie from the Fox News bubble.

      The insurance industry has been licking its chops at the ACA because it brings millions of previously uninsured and underinsured citizens on as their customers. Despite incurring some higher costs by having to insure people with pre-existing conditions, they still stand to make much higher profits. In fact, this is one of the biggest criticisms of market-driven healthcare reform based on the individual mandate -- invented by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and originally embraced by then Presidential candidate Bob Dole (you knew that, right?) -- that it's far too friendly to and showers far too many profits on the private insurance industry, essentially a parasitic middleman that inflates costs but adds no real value. This is why many liberals dislike the ACA: it's way better for citizens than anything the current crop of Republicans are proposing, but still far too conservative and inefficient an approach to reform.

      Latest insurance company scam

      Back in November 2012, I went to the emergency room for treatment of cellulitis, and got 23 (or so) hours worth of intravenous antibiotics -- cost was about $200. Same problem this November, same treatment, same hospital. $1200 copayment. What happened in-between? A new clause added about "observational status", wherein treatment at the hospital is billed as a bunch of a la carte outpatient services (but at inpatient rates). And one is hit with a 15% copayment (to make sure you consume medical services wisely). Thanks Blue Cross!

      Anon BS again

      Amazon is impressive today - but you're forgetting (or just bald-faced lying) about history if you think it's rollout was in anyway comparable in size or scope to the ACA effort.

      Amazon's website did less than $300K of business in its first year. Very impressive for a brand new online book brokerage site, but it's a percentage of a percentage of the business they do today - after a full decade of active and continuous develpment. And it's taken a decade for Amazon to ramp up to the level where they deal with several hundred million users per year - roughly on the order of what the ACA is expected to deal with in its first year.

      Also, Amazon's payment and delivery systems have been snafued many times, especially in the first few years. They've been sued by consumers who've had their credit card information misued, fought lawsuits from companies that claimed they had their inventories emptied or accounts inexplicitly locked by Amazon - sometimes leading to seriously financial damage (some even alleged that this was pre-meditated to make them more vunerable to acquisition). To top it off, Amazon's alleged record of horrible employee working conditions is infamous. If a Federal program treated most of its employees similarly, the reactionaries would have a field day using it as proof of government hypocrisy.

      Amazon is an impressive company, but thinking that it sprang full blown and perfect into the world - or that it deals in stakes that are as high as the ACA, is just out-an-out wrong and misleading.


      I think it might take more than four years...

      It's from the evil Republicans on the JEC, so some of you will just go all stompy-feet, but it's a good look at the complexity of Obamacare. Download the hi-res PDF, it's hilarious.

      I think they're gonna need a bigger boat. Or maybe some Ayn Rand snark. It's funny, the more paranoid of the right wing thinks it's being done on purpose, so the government can step in with a single-payer system. As if that would work any better. Maybe if they stuck with FORTRAN, like I suggested...


      Ah, but Americans waiting in line for that Xbox are doing it voluntarily, with a fair expectation that there's an Xbox at the end of the line. And they aren't required to have said Xbox by a certain date or face uninsured limbo and penalties.

      Look, I'm a hard core healthcare reform cheerleader but this fuck up is huge and the fixes have yet to be sufficient. Having applied for federal contracts before, I can easily see this being a byproduct of the ridiculous requirements for that process. More than once, my organization was forced to find less qualified and more expensive labor to fulfill requirements about minority, women and/or veteran-owned preferences. I don't envy whoever "won" the contracts to create the sites. It won't be shocking if this is the end of more than one business.


      This Obamacare website was

      This Obamacare website was not a competitive bid. I work in the IT space and never heard of the company prior to the launch of this website. I have since found out that the owner of the company is a personal friend of Michelle Obama. They went to college together.

      Hey, you really don't need the website to sign up for Obama care. You can fill out the forms and mail them in. And you still have today to sign up. It is time to get moving on this, what are you waiting for? I read that the actual enrollment is absymal. Don't let yourself be part of the group that only does what you feel is right for you and your family. If you're asked to pay more it's because you're well off, making well above average. Surely making $45K or more per year puts you in right in the middle of middleclass status. If your premium rose a bit from last year that's becuase you're 'well to do' and need to help pay for those less fortunate.

      We have a lot of immigrants that are coming into the system and they need healthcare that is affordable. They're doing the jobs you won't do so they deserve this subsidy.

      Let's not make a comparison to an Xbox, that's not fair. Just becuase one can afford this does not mean they can afford to pay for healthcare. The two are not the same.

      It’s true that the CMS did

      It’s true that the CMS did not accept bids from all comers to build the website. A Bloomberg report said the administration used an “expedited bidding system” that limited its choices to just a select few.

      Taken from your article. Please supply the list of 16 companies. I can't locate them.

      $45K = 'well to do'?

      So you're saying an immigrant who has never paid into the system "deserves" a subsidy over someone who is "well to do" making a whopping $45k annually and has been paying taxes for say, 10 years.

      "They're doing the jobs you won't do so they deserve this subsidy."

      Now you're assuming 1) they are all working and paying taxes, 2) they are all uneducated and 3) they only job(s) they are capable of preforming are unskilled low-wage jobs. Maybe that the issue, maybe we allow to many unskilled laborers into the country. Look at Canada's strict immigration policies.

      "Let's not make a comparison to an Xbox, that's not fair. Just because one can afford this does not mean they can afford to pay for healthcare. The two are not the same."

      You are absolutely right, the two are not the same. An XBox is a "Want" while in some circumstances Healthcare is a "need." Someone does not purchase an XBox, plus games if they do not have the disposable income to do so. If said person has such a disposable income, they should be able to afford to purchase their own friggen healthcare.


      How much does an Xbox cost?

      My video-game experience these days is pretty much limited to Angry Birds, but I'm having trouble picturing any game console costing even a fraction of what medical care would cost these days.

      But then, you probably don't think the poors should have the least bit of enjoyment at all in their lives.

      Man, Dickens lived a century too soon.


      Not all all

      But I do think a lot of people purchase shit they don't need and can't afford. Like $300 for a pair of Jordan vs a pair of nike for $65-100 or and XBOX 360 for $200 vs an XBox One for $600. This country is extremely materialistic, if your making $30k/ year maybe you don't need to be out buying the latest and greatest of everything over the idea of purchasing you own health insurance. It's called personal responsibility. Maybe Im crazy but I still believe in the idea of being able to take care if yourself and your kin.


      I work in infrastructure

      I work in infrastructure hosting. Cloud, cyber security, and big data. I've also got a good understanding of software, including Epic (look it up) and I understand that the cluncky SW is not designed for modern systems. HAHAHA, you think that web page makes them qualified? Hell, Amazon does not have the structure in place to do this well. CGI is a joke.

      Your IT space

      Why do people keep bringing Amazon up? Amazon is child's play compared to what the exchanges do.

      You have a good understanding of software. Have you ever designed or developed it? (For the record, I did for over 20 years.) I have a good understanding of SAP but that doesn't mean I can build anything using it. Is that the level of understanding you have with Epic or have you implemented a huge system using it?

      Maybe you think that a company like Oracle could have done a better job at building the exchange. Guess what? They built the Oregon exchange which is widely regarded as one of the least successful ones in the country.

      What if was 20 years ago?

      I don't see why all of this is such a big deal. What would we have done if something akin to Obamacare was implemented 20 or more years ago, like it SHOULD have been, like Ted Kennedy and others tried to do? Back when there was no internet? We would have had to do it by mail, or maybe go to a designated location like the post office or federal building. It may have taken a long time to do it in the old pre-digital way, but that's the same as is happening now anyway.


      Really? "Al Gore invented the Internet, har-dee-har!!!!"?

      The old GOP joke that "Al Gore invented the Internet, haw haw!" is really stale and tedious. Gore never said, "I invented the Internet". He did justifiably claim credit for authoring and driving a major piece of legislation (the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991, better known as the Gore Bill) that funded the research that drove a major expansion of the Internet from its earlier, primarily military and educational incarnation into its current high-speed, largely commercially-driven model. It also resulted in the development of Mosaic: you can thank Al Gore in part for the fact that you're viewing UH on a browser.

      Gore was an early and effective advocate for the advancement of high tech in general and the Internet in particular as a means to help expand the US economy. He also recognized the advantages of giving all Americans high-speed Internet access. It all seems obvious now, but back in the late 80s and early 90s, he was a lonely voice in Congress encouraging the Federal government to support these technologies. The fact is that his work was very important at a critical early stage in the development of the Internet as we know it today.

      But yeah, "Al Gore thinks he invented the Internet, yuckety-yuck!" Oof.


      Tearing at my liberal heartstrings

      I've been trying to help my husband sign up because his CommonwealthCare plan doesn't meet new guidelines and it has been an absolute nightmare. The site is confusing (no clear information for what to do if you have a CC plan that is expiring) as well as horrendous page load times (5-10 minutes per page in the application) and endless loops of questionaires that don't direct to the right pages.

      (ex. "Do you have health insurance now? Important: Don't check yes if you have a current CC plan."
      *NO, NEXT*
      "You said you have insurance from your employer. Please tell us the info."
      *no I didn't, BACK*
      *Site is down for maintenance. Please try later!*)

      Over the past month, we had to have wasted 20 hours or so fighting with the website as it goes down for maintenance and loses a lot of information constantly.

      I'm a bleeding heart liberal and fierce supporter of the ACA, but I'm severely disappointed in the rollout and performance of the exchange websites. I believe healthcare is a human right and that every American should have that right, but damn, the people deserve a better experience to access healthcare. As a former web developer and as someone with friends who are web developers, I'm deeply troubled by the incompetence of the way these sites were designed and coded and the hundred-million-dollar contracts that came with them. The government needs to drop these bloated contracts with incompetent companies and hire true web professionals to develop quality websites.

      I understand that people can do this via mail or phone, but if the ACA is going to succeed, it needs Gen Y to sign up and Gen Y uses the internet. We don't make phone calls anymore, nor do we mail things.


      When I gave up

      First: I admit I'm a liberal ("NO!" you say!). Got so pissed off at the Republican attempt to shut down government in the fall, I decided to apply for that there subsidized-care thing - if Texas doesn't want it, fine, more for us. So I filled out the application for a Commonwealth Care plan. Aside from having to make copies of all our income-taxes forms and the like and then send them to some post-office box in Chelsea, the application process was fairly painless. Got accepted for Dec. 1, and a got nice decrease in what we'd been paying for a Commonwealth Choice plan. Yeeha! Then we got the notice that, ha ha, Commonwealth Care goes away Dec. 31 - so don't forget to reapply by Dec. 23. Um, what? You couldn't have told us that in October?

      In any case, last week, I tried and failed twice to sign up for a new plan on the Web site. As I waited and waited and waited for pages to come up, I kept noticing all the URLs had "jsp" in them. Gah - nightmares from back in the day struggling with Java! Gave up, called the number, went through menu-tree bingo, sat on hold for at least 30 minutes, finally got an actual person, who, after first trying to convince me to sign up via the Web site ("I tried, that's why I'm talking to you"), started the process. And then nothing. And then she apologized because the system seemed to be running slow. Slow? Um, wait, what, are you using the same Web site I'd be using? Yes, she allowed.

      I asked her to send me the required forms in the mail. Fortunately, I could do that, since we also got a followup letter from the state saying that the state has extended Commonwealth Care until the end of March because turns out they haven't quite figured out which plans to offer people and, yes, there have been just a few issues with the Web site.

      All rather disconcerting in a) an alleged high-tech mecca like Massachusetts and b) the state that supposedly figured this health-insurance thing out years ago (and truth be told, using the Health Connector site until October *was* pretty easy and painless).


      Does anyone at UH know anyone who worked on the MA site?

      I've been doing IT since VAXen walked the earth, and I have to say that I don't know anybody who's worked on the MA connector site, in any capacity. The closest I've come is frequent pingings by Indian recruiters for MA IT contract positions, usually at sub-market rates, typically in Chelsea. (Go figure that one out.)

      I'd love to hear some internal stuff from the people who've worked on the Connector site--anonymized, of course.

      MA connector Chelsea

      Chelsea is the main office of the Massachusetts Information Technology Division. The jobs for which you are getting pinged are not for the connector. They are for state jobs for other agencies.

      Waiting since October

      Signed up online in October and got a cheery message that I'd be getting some info in the mail "in a few weeks."

      Still waiting....

      Numerous calls to the Connector have yielded only a drain in my phone's battery.

      I tried to call for help on

      I tried to call for help on Saturday and waited 1 hour on hold to speak to someone before the system died. In the meantime, I was catching up on some stuff on my DVR and still fighting with the website when all of a sudden everything froze, a server error popped up and the maintenance page cued. At that point, I just gave up and hung up because I figured everything is royally f-ed now and the person who might eventually answer probably wouldn't be able to help.

      We plan to go into the Portland St. office and just ask them to do it for us right there in person. This is really ridiculous. We live in MA. We did this FIRST.