Oh, by the way: With 10 days to go before launch, ObamaCare websites still can't calculate insurance subsidies correctly

Via Avik Roy. I know what you’re thinking. “Doesn’t this mean ObamaCare’s insurance subsidies are bound to be plagued by fraud and waste?” Why, yes — but the good news is, HHS decided weeks ago to suspend the program’s anti-fraud measures. You’ll be punished if they catch you cheating, but they’re telling you in advance that they won’t try too hard. So if a website glitch means you end up with twice the amount of subsidies you’re supposed to get based on your income, hey. They promised you life would improve with universal health care, didn’t they? (Sidenote: “Universal health care” isn’t remotely universal.)

Good enough for government work?

Less than two weeks before the launch of insurance marketplaces created by the federal health overhaul, the government’s software can’t reliably determine how much people need to pay for coverage, according to insurance executives and people familiar with the program…

A failure by consumers to sign up online in the hotly anticipated early days of the “exchanges” is worrisome to insurers, which are counting on enrollees for growth, and to the Obama administration, which made the exchanges a centerpiece of its sweeping health-care legislation…

Four people familiar with the development of the software that determines how much people would pay for subsidized coverage on the federally run exchanges said it was still miscalculating prices. Tests on the calculator initially scheduled to begin months ago only started this week at some insurers, according to insurance executives and two people familiar with development efforts.

“There’s a blanket acknowledgment that rates are being calculated incorrectly,” said one senior health-insurance executive who asked not to be named. “Our tech and operations people are very concerned about the problems they’re seeing and the potential of them to stick around.”

People have until March to sign up but the more word gets around that the websites don’t work correctly, the less inclined would-be enrollees may be to try again later after an initial failure. And of course, early glitches are a looming PR disaster for the White House as they try to convince a skeptical public that Republicans are cuh-ray-zee to think the law should be delayed for a year. The GOP may end up having some unlikely allies in that effort, though: Per Roy, the head of Connecticut’s own ObamaCare exchange says he’d welcome a year’s delay in the name of working out the kinks before the system goes live. “Sometimes it feels like we’re driving a car and then changing the tire at the same time,” he said. There’s a nifty line for Boehner’s first press conference after he finally gives up the “defund” strategy and embraces delay.

Anyhow, none of this is “news,” strictly speaking. Tales of glitches and other logistical nightmares imperiling ObamaCare’s exchanges have been swirling for months. Reuters reported six weeks ago that the federal government was “months behind” on meeting the technical challenges of the exchanges by the October 1 launch date; two weeks ago, they followed up by noting that lots of glitches still remain. Just two days ago, Instapundit posted an e-mail from a reader who claims to work in this field. Quote:

Through serendipity I’ve ended up working in HIT (health information technology). I take 50 calls a day with independent insurance agents/brokers to navigate the hoops to qualify to sell on the FFM (Federal Facilitated Marketplaces). The Government websites they need to access to register are riddled with random error messages, and simply attempting to log in to complete this process routinely fails. The agents/brokers are, to a person, terrified. If they cannot complete this process by October 1st (the deadline) they are hosed. Nobody knows what to do, and this will only get worse when millions of consumers join the fray of the marketplace. It appears nobody scaled the back end to accommodate this exponential growth. And now?, It’s too late. It’s like the owner of the White Star line getting a telegram about the Titanic sinking and saying “We need to order more lifeboats.” And these are the smartest guys in the room? #soscrewed. For obvious reasons, don’t use my name please..

The news isn’t that they’re having trouble. The news is that, having discovered early this year that the technology wasn’t yet ready for prime time and devoted their best efforts to avoiding a clusterfark in the rollout, they’re still staring at a meltdown now. Good lord.

Via the Corner, here’s Boehner laying into O-Care after this morning’s “defund” vote in the House. Exit quotation via WaPo: “‘Nobody is going to say we’re not starting on October 1,’ says Joel Ario, who previously oversaw health exchanges at HHS, ‘but in some situations, you may see a redefinition of what ‘start’ means.'”

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