Ezra Klein: Obamacare Website 'Confusing,' 'Really Bad'

Not even the Affordable Care Act's most prominent supporters seem to be able to find kind words for the program's website. 

In a Friday morning missive, Washington Post pundits Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas tore into the website as "confusing" and ideal "ammunition" for those who argue the law will create yet another cumbersome bureaucratic program.

Klein and Soltas introduce the piece with a comparison to Apple's program glitches—a comparison the Obama administration themselves made. The authors don't buy the comparison, however, suggesting that, had the website been a private sector product, "the tech world would be calling for Tim Cook's head." Among the problems, they continue, are the "confusing" nature of the website's instructions on everything from choosing a user name to extra security questions and the clumsy coding, torn apart by web designers on Reddit.

What's more, the site has been so unsuccessful in signing people up for the program that the one man in America capable of navigating it, OFA volunteer Chad Henderson, has become something of a microcelebrity. Klein and Soltas note the absurdity of this—and, particularly, the fact that the Department of Health and Human Services put him on a conference call, so eager were they to speak to someone who could successfully use their website.

Klein and Soltas still defend the greater Affordable Care Act, of course, and go so far as to argue that Republicans did the law a "great favor" by diverting attention from the website rollout onto the current government shutdown. This, they claim, prevented the media from pointing out "real flaws" that, "if there was more focus on them, they'd be quite embarrassing." 

They further argue that the problem with the website stays with the website and not the health care plan itself. It would be "perverse," they continue, to posit that the fact that the website rollout has been nothing short of a comic blunder should trigger discussion of postponing the application of said program. In fact, the website's only problem—and one they admit does not reflect favorably on the administration—is that it "can't handle its success."


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