The Individual Mandate has been unilaterally delayed until the federal health exchange website, healthcare.gov, will be cured of its severe glitches. The White House issued a delay for at least 6 weeks.
The glitches result from 2 major problems:
1. One month before the exchanges opened for enrollment, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) delayed a tool on the website that would allow anonymous visitors to shop for health coverage and compare the cost of plans. Instead, website visitors were required to create an account and file personal financial information before they could shop for health coverage.
HHS didn’t want consumers to see the underwritten costs of insurance premiums before knowing whether they qualify for a subsidized health plan. The department thought this would scare consumers away from signing up. So, once a potential consumer files personal information and annual household income, HHS bureaucrats must first verify this information and determine the subsidy amount for that individual. Hence the bottlenecking and website traffic jams.
2. Oracle, a software component embedded in a government identity-checking system, is not collaborating well with the website’s other software components. The Wall Street Journal says:
Quality Software Services subcontracted with Oracle for the identity management system’s key software component, according to people familiar with the matter. The other systems are not interfacing consistently with the Oracle software, blocking many users from completing the registration process, other people said.
Part of the problem is that signing up for Obamacare coverage is far more complicated than the online transactions Americans are used to, like checking a bank balance or ordering a book. The Obamacare website must knit together platforms from five huge federal agencies — Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration, HHS, the Treasury Department and the Department of Justice — each of which marches to its own IT specifications. It must also interact with separate systems set up by the 15 states that built their own exchanges, plus all of those outside insurers.