Epstein on Fixing Obamacare

The Obamacare Train Wreck
Richard A. Epstein
Defining Ideas
October 14, 2013

It is now common knowledge that the bugs in the Obamacare website have been embedded in the system from the start. For the past two weeks, not only have many individuals found it impossible to access the website, but they are often frozen in place once they pass through the initial portal. The problems will just get worse. The current law requires extensive communications between enrollees and their chosen insurance carriers, as well as massive interaction with both federal and state organizations. As a result, web traffic builds up behind bottlenecks and leads to massive frustration. As I warned last May, watching Obamacare unravel is a painful business.

The Bright Side of Bad News

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has tried to put a positive gloss on the messy situation with the dubious observation that the system glitches are due to heavy consumer demand. Her statement subtly implies that the nation’s alleged need for the program is the cause of its momentary glitches. She claims that things are “getting better by the day.” Not so. The government site was not built for heavy traffic, nor was it tested before going live. It is no mean feat to try to fix a balky computer system on the fly.

As a result of these problems, calls to delay the implementation of the individual mandate are now reaching a fever pitch, such as Peggy Noonan’s to delay the individual mandate a year. The bugs need to be worked out before ordinary people are slapped with fines for failing to enroll in the derelict system before the penalty deadline now set for March 31, 2014.

Richard A. Epstein