If Obama’s healthcare.gov had worked, the last three months would have been about celebrations, accolades, and a merrier holiday for the administration. However, there is no second opinion about the abysmal performance of the federal marketplace, and poor management of the entire campaign.
So, what went wrong? Were these mistakes a product of incomplete planning at conceptualization state, or did the administration fail to control the momentum of a nation mobilized toward enrolling? Well, the answer is – both. Let us take you through the top five mistakes made with Obamacare, and the steps were put in by the administration to handle them, including the results achieved.
1) Poor Planning at Initial Stages – The most detrimental mistake made by the administration was poor planning, especially at the initial stages. The administration failed to see the timelines available for implementing the online marketplace and ancillary measures, and caused a software project to crumble due to improper investment of time. Further, the health insurance exchange technology has over 5 million lives of code! With that bloated of an infrastructure, it was doomed from the start.
2) Untimely Cancelations, Major Ruckus – To add to the unending woes of the administration, the untimely cancelation mess made things worse for the administration. Thousands received cancelation notices – after the administration said over and over, “if you like your policy, you can keep it.” The administration has offered to cancel the cancellation notices, but the state authorities and health plans haven’t responded enthusiastically, resulting in a stalemate. On Dec. 19, the administration announced that people whose policies have been canceled will be allowed to buy catastrophic coverage and will be exempt from tax penalties for not having insurance in 2014.
3) Enrollment overestimation – In their excitement to motivate the entire nation, Obamacare made another major mistake, it overcommitted. The enrollment numbers promised by the administration were way off the mark. Even though some people contend that this lapse is because of the stumbling healthcare.gov, but for states that have a perfectly functional exchange, the enrollment numbers are not heartening. The administration is now trying to meet the promises made and not backtrack, as this will lead to further loss of credibility. In the last two weeks, the enrollment numbers have shot up due to the effort of the officials, and it is expected that they will eventually meet their targets.
4) Lack of support for private exchanges – A grave mistake that Obamacare committed was not providing any support, in terms of subsidy calculation and as an alternate means of enrollment, to private exchanges. Surprisingly, most of these private exchanges worked much better than the federal marketplace, and had the government thought of doing this in the first place, it would have achieved better enrollment numbers. Now, the government is speeding up its direct enrollment feature, which allows private exchanges to conduct enrollments without going through the federal marketplace. Once this feature is fully in place, it will deliver better conversions on the enrollment front.
5) No Contingency Measures – For a project of such a massive scale, one critical mistake made by the administration was not developing a contingency plan. For instance, had the direct enrollment feature and the backdoor performance of the exchanges been fully implemented, the administration could have taken the help of brokers, private marketplaces, and navigators right away, instead of gradually going to them for enrollment support.