Of course, there were caveats. The site will still probably get buggy when there's a lot of traffic, which is why Health and Human Services Secretary
Oh, and there will still be crashes, and occasionally the administrators will have to take the whole thing offline. But,
There's still one hitch. HealthCare.gov doesn't work, at all. Sure, it provides a remarkably realistic user experience, but as of now it's basically a video game. A really, really boring video game. Call it Sim Healthcare.
This is because the so-called back end essentially doesn't exist. That's the part of the site that talks to the insurance companies, processes payments and actually, you know, gets people enrolled on insurance plans.
Reports vary on whether it needs to be "fixed" or whether it still needs to be built. On Nov. 19, Henry Chao, the administration official in charge of overseeing the site, told
"It's not built, let alone tested," one insurance executive told the
Either way, it's not working. Think of it this way: Would you consider an ATM machine to be functional if it created a lifelike experience but didn't actually do anything with your commands? No money comes out, no deposits get credited, no transfers actually work, but it just says it did?
Now that's a bit harsh, of course. Insurance companies say that some people have successfully navigated the digital gantlet.
In its triumphant progress report, the administration declared that the effort was now proceeding with "private sector velocity and efficiency." That's adorable. A project that was sold as tangible proof of the intellectual and managerial competence of liberalism utterly fails after more than three years and $1 billion, and now the administration is bragging that it stepped up its game to the standards of the nongovernment sector.
The problem is that in the private sector, the ability to process payments is a big priority. Creating a more enjoyable user experience is nice, but the back end is where the action is. You know where the private sector has worked with real velocity and efficiency? Sending out millions of insurance cancellation letters.
The most remarkable thing about Sim Healthcare is how it serves as an analog to liberalism in the age of Obama generally. The president talks a wonderful game about inequality, shared responsibility and the general superiority of liberal economic policies. It's all uplifting, particularly for the extremely rich liberals who've gotten even richer under Obama but who feel like they are staying true to the cause by cutting checks to the Democrats. (A New York Times study found that between 2009 and 2011, median income grew four times faster than under
Sim Healthcare seems like a smashing success so long as the results don't matter, just like Sim Liberalism.