Critics of the Affordable Care Act see a “train wreck,” an “unraveling” or “collapse” of the health-care system in every glitch and delay in the electronic health-insurance marketplace since it was launched a week ago Tuesday. Healthcare.gov, the federal website for exchanges in more than 30 states, including Ohio, got off to a rough start. Far from a smooth process of logging in to browse, purchase and apply for subsidies, the rollout has been plagued by technical difficulties, frustrating delays and errors.
Still, gleeful predictions of failure are premature. Consumers have up to six months to enroll in a health plan, which is more than enough time to work out the bugs in the technology. Bottlenecks on the federal website already have been eased with additional server capacity, improvements to the software program and phone service, cutting wait times by half since the first week, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Yet the more encouraging story is in states that are running their own exchanges with a high degree of success in spite of the crush of demand. New Mexico, Maryland and New York among others have weathered heavy traffic well, using the advantage of their much smaller exchanges to respond more swiftly to problems. The exchange in Kentucky, for instance, had processed some 14,000 applications and enrolled nearly 7,000 by Monday.
There is irony in all this. In the debate over health reform, Republicans pressed for states to run their own exchanges. States know best the needs of residents and will be incubators of innovation, they argued. But come time to act on the rhetoric, Republican-dominated states, including Ohio, bowed out. To watch for a train wreck?