Garth Kant is WND Washington news editor. Previously, he spent five years writing, copy-editing and producing at "CNN Headline News," three years writing, copy-editing and training writers at MSNBC, and also served several local TV newsrooms as producer, executive producer and assistant news director. He is the author of the McGraw-Hill textbook, "How to Write Television News."More ↓Less ↑
WASHINGTON – The first reviews are in, and so, far, Obamcare is a lot like “new” Coke. Few product roll-outs in history have had more problems.
Even some of its strongest supporters are the most scathing critics of the way Obamcare has been introduced to the public.
When President Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius compared the Obamacare website problems to a glitch in an Apple product roll-out, Washington Post columnist Ezra Kelin responded, “But the Obama administration doesn’t have a basically working product that would be improved by a software update. They have a website that almost nobody has been able to successfully use.
“If Apple launched a major new product that functioned as badly as Obamacare’s online insurance marketplace, the tech world would be calling for (Apple CEO) Tim Cook’s head.”
The administration claims the website running the federal health-care exchange (serving 36 states that do not have individual exchanges) has been overwhelmed by demand and had 9 million visitors in its first four days.
But the administration refuses to say, or cannot say, how many people have actually enrolled in Obamacare.
That may be because the Wall Street Journal reported insiders and insurance-industry experts estimated only a few thousand people in the entire nation had signed up for Obamacare in its first six days.
It may be difficult to tell how great demand for Obamacare actually is, because it is proving next to impossible to complete an application on its website.
Information technology experts told the Journal the website “appeared to be built on a sloppy software foundation.”
Monday night on “The Daily Show,” Sebelius claimed “hundreds of thousands” of Obamacare accounts had been created. On Tuesday, she wrote in USA Today, “demand was so high, it exceeded even optimists’ expectations.”
But the Journal estimated only tens-of-thousands of people have even begun the application process.
USA Today ran an editorial alongside the piece by Sebelius calling the exchange launch an “inexcusable mess” and noted, “Even though the system was shut down for repairs over the weekend, Monday’s early reports continued to suggest an epic screw-up.”
Even Obamacare supporters are mystified that, with four years to design and build a website to handle enrollment, the government claims it cannot keep track of how many people are actually enrolled.
“We will release monthly data when it is available,” a senior administration official told CNN.
Worse yet, Politico reported that Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling admitted: “The truth is, we don’t have that information.”
Sperling reportedly advised everyone to wait until Jan. 1 to consider enrollment numbers, and said the public should “stay tuned.”
If the Wall Street Journal is correct, and actual applications are much fewer than expected, it is difficult to tell if the low demand is indeed because of processing problems, or if it is due to dissatisfaction with the product.
A few users seemed simply confused, but the overwhelming number of comments were critical and many of those were scathing.
Complaints about the application process had three recurring themes: long waits, glitches and sticker shock. There was also much ridicule of the site’s inability to handle “tremendous demand.”
Dazed and confused
Lance Link: “Why can’t I see rates without giving all my personal info? I just want to compare things. Are the rates so horrible that you can’t just show them?”
Barb Kaster: “Why was this site set up to require an account before being able to see the choices of plans? This is an awkward step before one can view the policy choices.”
Walter Whitfield: “I have been trying to register six times a day for three days. I have never been able to do it successfully. Seriously, you guys had three years to prepare for this. Whoever was in charge of setting this up needs to be looking for a new job.”
Becky McElhaney: “I have wasted countless hours trying to create an account on this site. Something is very wrong that they are not prepared for the website to handle this kind of traffic or whatever the problem is.”
Julie Harmon Thomas: “Good grief. Day 3 of trying and still can’t get on this website. The government KNEW about this thing going live for two years. TWO YEARS! And this is the best they could do? I shudder to think what’s going to happen once they are in control of my health care. They can’t even get their website functioning properly. If my business had rolled out a piece of crap that worked like this I’d be out of business.”
Bobby Boyer: “Healthcare.gov, you need to have a media blast ‘notice’ when all the kinks are worked out. I’ve been trying for a third day now, nonstop, and I’m officially giving up. Inform the masses via TV news outlets when the website is actually function[al], and you really should encourage Washington to expand the cutoff date for enrollment. At this rate, there [are] going to be A LOT of Americans who give up, somewhat like the government has this week!”
Troy Tyson: “You’ve cut the wait times by a third?! I’ve been trying to log in for over two hours! On the rare occasion that I’m able to get as far as logging in at all, it logs me out before it loads anything!”
John Perkins: “New personal best, I got to the security questions page and complete it, but then a screen pops up and says, ‘Your account can’t be created, system unavailable.’”
Elmer Shaw III: “Still cannot log in, and the one quote that I did get from my current provider is $186.70 more for the same coverage, so I am HOPING for some CHANGE on the healthcare.gov site.”
Christine Brewer: “Cannot log in. Says that my user name or password is incorrect. Haven’t changed anything. What a cluster!!”
Bill Wood: “I’ve been trying since day one to log on to Healthcare.gov with my user name and password, which the site says is invalid. After spending 30 minutes online, the rep told me that she could not tell me when this issue would be fixed. I find it absurd the Healthcare.gov wasn’t better prepared for this. Heads need to roll! Totally unacceptable and frustrating as hell!!!”
Eugene Golden: “I cannot ever get past the log-in page. I am not even sure my log-in info is right now.”
Colleen Cunningham: “I got in, but it can’t verify my ID, and then I couldn’t upload documents to prove my ID. I was so eager to shop but disappointed it can’t ID me. I called, but they said there was nothing they can do to help.”
Parag Shah: “STILL After three DAYS of verifying my email, and another two PRIOR days of trying to log in but UNABLE TO SIGN IN and access my account. THAT’S FIVE DAYS. Now I opened up another email verified account I’ve been trying to log in on two separate accounts because this poorly run website dose not allow me to log in. WHOEVER is contracted to maintain this website for our government is doing A HORRIBLE JOB. WASTE OF TIME, TAXPAYER MONEY AND lots of STRESS. I PRAY THIS is not how OBAMACARE is going to be run. I REALLY NEED AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE without the stress of trying to enroll due to all the glitches. I hope the prices won’t be high.”
Jeffrey Alman: “Sorry, but this is a cluster. I have registered yet cannot log in. On the off-chance that I did enter my username and password incorrectly, I re-registered using the same username. It accepted it, yet when I clicked on the link to verify my email, it said oops, you waited too long. I did it immediately! I wish someone would reply to this. IT DOES NOT WORK!”
Jeffrey Alman: “I still cannot log in, says username and password incorrect, and when I click on forgot username, no email comes.”
Beth Burns: “Shame it still states that the two accounts we signed up with say invalid username and password information.”
Stephen Pradier: “Day 3 and still not working, although I did get 173 emails from email@example.com via govdelivery. Must have been in a loop. Truly a horrible experience, and I wonder if I can get enrolled before December.”
David Bensman: “If doesn’t matter if you cut wait times in half if nothing works anyway⁄! Full of bugs and unlimited error messages. Every step of the way dead ends with a bug. Seriously ridiculously frustrating.”
Melissa Saka Ginsberg: “Wish I could find these supposed people who were able to log on. Been trying for three days straight. What a joke.”
Marketa Winfield: “I have been a long-time Obama supporter, but it seems that that the only people who will be able to afford this are those who don’t need it. There is something wrong here, folks.”
Carole Pratt Ri DeCarlo: “I have had my own private policy that I will not be able to afford to keep once the rates triple per the letter I received from Humana. I’m not eligible for ‘affordable’ coverage on the exchange, don’t qualify for subsidy. I am living, documented proof this is system will not work for me. No propaganda here.”
Patti Gray: “So, these ‘free’ mammograms are costing me triple the premium costs, plus a HUGE new deductible and co-pay. Thanks Obamacare!!!”
Cheryll Quail Feather Hart: “Where the heck is the AFFORDABLE part of this???? $17, 000.00 per YEAR to insure my family of 4???? And no help from subsidies because my work offers ME and, yes, only ME, coverage????”
Jenn Tate: “Payments are more than we can afford. Sorry, my family needs to eat and keep a roof over our heads all year, not just at tax refund time.”
Crystal Riggle Deans: “So, I have a family of five and we live 83 percent below the poverty line. We will be charged over $1,000 per month for insurance, and we are looking at $12,700 in out-of-pocket expenses, NOT including premiums. Hahaha, I haven’t even paid my rent this month because we couldn’t afford it. We have no car payments, no cable, no cell phones. We are not on welfare or food stamps.”
Irene Waldron: “My daughter must pay $1,272 a year for an Obamcare policy with a $5,000-a-year deductible plan, or be hounded by the IRS to pay the penalty. She does not have an extra $200 a year, let alone $1,272. What an incredible scam. Obama lied.
Lynn Watson: “I just got a call from a friend in Texas. She is single and 62 years old. The plan she got information on will cost her $450.00 a month with $6,000.00 deductible. This is the silver plan. You call this the affordable health care bill.”
Sha Sha Corbley: “Sticker shock is a huge understatement. We currently pay $1,158 PER MONTH for a personal policy. Closest choice to what we have now but not as good being offered in 2014, will cost us $1,937 PER MONTH, and we don’t qualify for any subsidy.”
William Mittica: “No excuses. You guys should have been more prepared. You’re giving Fox News all the ammunition they need. and you deserve every bit of it.”
Greg Noblin: “There are tons of sites on the web that can handle more ‘demand’ than you can. And those site didn’t cost $55,000,000 taxpayer dollars to set up.”
Maven Dex: “So let’s recap, the government has computing power to break almost all encryption systems, snoop on your Internet, snoop on your phone … design the Internet, have back doors built into almost all hardware and software available, but can’t support this website because? 2 billion for a super computer facility for the NSA and health coverage sites gets what, used servers? Just an observation.”
Stephen Harris: “Third day. System still down in NJ. I do not believe it is demand. It is a poorly architected[sic] application. If I were the programmers of this, I would be embarrassed. Or they should be fired. Third day and yet still fail????”
Jackie Trapp Price: “Nobody believes you! Facebook and Google can handle multi-millions of people at once, and they don’t have these problems.”
Frank Cormier: “Three days now, and I see the site is still down. Facebook, Google, eBay, Amazon, etc., handle millions of visitors a day. How screwed up is this government? They had years to set this up.”
Tom Peranteau: “Over $300 million spent on their servers/Internet system, and they can’t handle the traffic? Google handles more traffic than they are experiencing every minute!”
Paulin Soleyman: “As someone who’s somewhat technically savvy, I can’t help but ask: If you can’t even manage to maintain your website code, servers, etc., so that the whole system doesn’t crumble under the weight of heavy Internet traffic, how are you to be trusted to be able to keep your website safe from hackers, spammers and identity thieves? To me, all these ‘glitches’ spell nothing but disaster, and I will not trust this site with my personal info.”
Katie Anderson: “I am able to log on just fine. It takes my username and password. However, it takes me to a blank website. It’s white. What I don’t understand is, if you were pretty sure that there would be so many people trying to sign up at once, [wouldn't you think] it would probably shut the site down and people would have problems? Why didn’t you set it up so certain people can sign up on certain days? Like people with the last names beginning with letters A-F can sign up during the weeks of Oct. 1-7 and so on and so on. Don’t you think it would have made things easier for all?”
From sarcasm to outrage
Todd Smith: “This website had a pre-existing condition.”
Larry McLarry: “Can I raise my debt ceiling to pay for this?”
Amy Gobrecht Moffitt: “‘Tremendous demand’? How about revealing how many people have actually signed up??? More like tremendous failure.”
Shana Allen: “It’s funny how they say people are overloading the system ‘cuz it’s so popular, if by popular you mean mandatory. Lol.”
Michael Emerson: “There is NO WAY 7,000,000,000 were able to access this site. Jay Carney is a liar.”
Todd Smith: “Government forces people to pay a new tax. People click on website to see how much this new tax will cost them. Website crashes in the first hour. Government calls it a huge success.”
Amy Gobrecht Moffitt: “Looks like someone should’ve accepted the plan to delay it.”
Jeff LoBalbo: “I just want to know one thing: How come all of the same people who are saying ‘just be patient’ on the Obamacare website would be screaming their heads off if Google, Amazon or the iTunes store would be down more than an hour. Think this is fun? Wait till they have to see a doctor, or God forbid a life-threatening emergency, if this is any indication.”
Mike Apilado: “Millions of Americans on Facebook, and 200,000 like this page. Reality set in much? Truckers to shut-down D.C. is almost as popular!!”
Dwight F Roberts: “I went ahead and made accounts for Harry Reid and Barack Obama to help them sign up!”