Healthcare.gov seems to be working better for consumers, relatively, but it is not clear that it works for insurers (in which case it doesn’t work for consumers either, as they are trying to buy insurance). Insurers have long said that they are receiving botched enrolment forms, or 834s, if they receive them at all. On December 2nd health officials said they had fixed a problem that accounted for 80% of the glitches with 834s. But they would not confirm what share of 834s were being bungled, so it is hard to know the fix’s importance.
If the site is working better for consumers, as it seems to be, shoppers may rush to sign up for insurance before Mr Obama’s deadline of December 23rd. They will expect coverage to kick in just a few days later, on January 1st. That gives insurers little time to process 834s, even if they are sent without problems, let alone deal with garbled forms. Mr Obama’s goals for health reform have always been laudable. But the gruelling, technical job of enrolment will be the big story for some time yet.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.