ACA enrollment misses target

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The government is set to release healthcare enrollment numbers later this week, but early calculations indicate that the program has already missed its initial target. The Wall Street Journal estimates that less than 50,000 people have enrolled in government-run exchanges, compared to the Administration's target of 500,000 by the end of October. Technical flaws have sidelined the program, so much so that just six people were able to enroll when the site went live. The WSJ notes that one consumer managed to fill out a Healthcare.gov profile but can't sign up because he can't access the small business information part of the site, which will influence what kind of coverage he chooses.

In addition to usability issues, information about decisions that affected performance have continued to surface.

These included choices such as launching the site before vigorous security testing, and pushing off a connectivity component that would make it easy for information to flow from Healthcare.gov to Medicaid if users were eligible. The New York Times pointed out Monday that this choice has kept “tens of thousands of low-income people from signing up for Medicaid even though they are eligible, federal and state officials say, undermining one of the chief goals of the 2010 health care law.” 

Even if things get up and running, there's concern that a functioning website will not be enough to make up for a bad first impression. Talking heads on the CNBC news show Morning Joe on Tuesday floated the idea that the Administration should pull the site until the bugs are fixed. This proposal could work for a company, but the roundtable noted that the proposition carries heavy political messaging that could be difficult for Democrats to rebound from.

Insurers have kicked around the idea of letting consumers bypass the government website altogether, reports the New York Times, which also notes that while the government hasn't pounced on the idea, it hasn't said no. This shortcut could speed enrollment, but the Times writes that it could also put consumer tax information in too many hands, and would also require a tool that would allow users to calculate their eligibility for subsidies, math which Healthcare.gov is supposed to help with.

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