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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Opinion

Shoddy website launch makes Americans doubtful of Obamacare future


It seems as though it’s impossible to go a week in the media without reading something about the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. For that, I apologize.

The launching of President Barack Obama’s treasured health care initiative has been polarizing in more ways than one. One thing about the reform that’s elicited a single, unified outcry is the website’s inability to function at the most basic level.

First and foremost, the website’s inability was a cataclysmic failure. It publicly shamed the proponents of the reform and has attracted the attention of nearly every mass media sub-genre out there. Coverage of the site’s crash wasn’t limited to the pages of the Times, or the Journal, or anything. Its failure was sprawled out, spread-eagle in every corner of the Web and television for all to see.

This was a massive happening for one of the most momentous reforms in our nation’s history. The sheer length of the fight that it took to get Obamacare out there has made the product’s floundering an all-the-more bitter pill to swallow — for the proponents of Obamacare, at least.

So, before anything else happened, and before people started saying the things that have turned Obamacare’s accidental failure into an inevitable demise, the thing that has been shamelessly lauded by Obama didn’t work.

On its own, that was certainly enough to make headlines.

The Huffington Post also reported that the site was tested pre-launch by the government rather than the site’s private developers who possessed infinitely more knowledge on the subject.

As explained by Forbes Magazine, the website’s crash was caused by the insane amount of Web traffic the site attracted — something we all probably would’ve assumed on our own.

That traffic, though, was also caused by the site’s mandate that all visitors create an account and provide some pretty comprehensive personal information before they’re even allowed to check out the options offered by Obamacare.

Forbes went on to explain that “HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.”

As far as the “insane” amount of Web traffic goes, The Washington Post reports Obamacare as having gotten more than 8 million hits within the first week.

That’s unheard of traffic — aside from Amazon’s weekly 70 million, Yahoo’s 49 million and the New York Times’ 44 million, according to CNN Money and Poynter.

The crash served as a catalyst for additional research into the subject. Since that, we’ve received information on Obamacare that might’ve made us a little more wary about it from the get-go.

Regarding the development of the site, The Huffington Post reports that the site’s contracted designers complained about unrealistic deadlines and unethical working conditions that the design of the website required. The Post said that “website builders saw red flags for months” and that some web designers were reduced to tears over the stress of finishing the job in such a small period of time.

The workers felt that they were given the smallest amount of time allowed by the Obama administration to complete a Herculean task. Workers reported many a sleepless night from the slew of last-minute change requests from the administration.

It’s always a stamp of reassurance on our doubts when bureaucrats forego quality and effectiveness in the name of unjustified haste.

And that’s just scraping the surface of the wound. A poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC reported that 56 percent of Americans believed the “website glitches” are “part of a broader problem with the health care law,” problems that will inevitably be discovered while Obamacare continues to exist.

So it wasn’t just the shoddy launching of Obamacare. Maybe the people would’ve been more forgiving of the errors if they weren’t already on the fence about the law.

This might just be me, but it seems a stretch to assume one error in a product would alienate more than half of the nation’s population — unless, of course, that product was already orbiting in dense clouds of doubt.

Senior staff columnist Cara Smith is a communications junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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