The Obama Administration claims the Healthcare.gov system should be mostly working by the end of November, giving themselves a month to fix things. This time frame they outlined is interesting because that is basically how long they have to fix things before the real trouble starts.
As it currently stands the exchange being broken is really not a huge problem yet. The new insurance coverage won’t start until January 1st so there is no reason to buy it months ahead of time. What is important is to get the exchange working by early December. December 15th is the last day to buy insurance if you want it to start in January 1st. The first two weeks of December is when there will be a real spike in people trying to enroll.
Right now Healthcare.gov not working is mostly just an embarrassing political failure but if it is not working by the beginning of December that will have big real world implications. You could have millions of people who were told they would get insurance being unable to enroll. Some of these people will have been kicked off their old plans because their plans don’t meet the new Obamacare standards and they are expecting to get new coverage through the exchanges. This would be a political and policy nightmare. Early December is when the shit actually hits the fan.
I really don’t know if the administration made this end-of-November promise because that is how long they actually think it will take or if they know claiming it would take any longer would cause a panic so they are being extremely optimistic with their promise. I could see either being the real reason. Regardless, if they don’t meet this deadline they will have much bigger problems than a lose of credibility for failing to fulfill a promise, they will be face an actual disaster.
Photo by ~dgies under Creative Commons license