The first day of the Affordable Care Act exchanges does not seem to be going well. There are numerous technical glitches and login problems.
On one hand this is too be expected. When launching such a large and needlessly complex piece of technology there are going to be issues. Since insurance doesn’t actually start until January there is also a few months to fix problems before they become truly serious. As a result I have plenty of sympathy for the states who set up their own exchanges. The federal government gave them an extremely difficult task and they are trying to make the best of the situation. I’m willing to cut them plenty of slack.
However I have zero sympathy for the Obama administration as they struggle to correct these glitches in the federally run exchanges. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius has asked we give them “the same slack you give Apple,” but that is an unfair comparison since Apple is not forcing you to be their customer.
Yes this is an incredibly difficult technological task, but it is only an incredibly difficult task because Obama chose to make it so difficult. President Obama and Congressional Democrats could have adopted a much better health care law that would have also been dramatically easier to implement. They chose not to.
Democrats could have just directly expanded public insurance to the uninsured. Even if they insisted on going with a private insurance system there was no need to build these exchanges. For example, in Switzerland the government simply mandates all insurers sell an approved basic package but there is no special government run site you are made to buy from.
If the incredible complexity at least provided real advantages that might be understandable. Instead the ACA was made needlessly complex so it could purposely leave in place an inferior system that allows the health care sector to continue to rip off Americans.
If you choose to make your plan needlessly complex, you won’t get any slack when you run into problems implementing it.