Is White House Driving Traffic to Healthcare.gov or Is It Wary of Another Crash?

Friday, Ezra Klein has a post up at Wonkblog about the relaunch of Healthcare.gov, which the administration claimed would be working by November 30th. He breaks his analysis into 11 points. Here’s point #3 along with part of point #4:

The White House’s confidence is apparent in their efforts to drive
traffic to the Web site. As of a few weeks ago they were emphasizing
analogue options, like signing up over the telephone or in-person with
an Obamacare “navigator,” because they wanted to keep people off the Web
site…

The fact that the Obama administration is driving people to the Web site
now means they think the Web site is, for most people, able to
successfully transform interest into enrollment.

Now here’s the NY Times from Tuesday of this week:

White House officials, fearful that the
federal health care website may again be overwhelmed this weekend, have
urged their allies to hold back enrollment efforts so the insurance
marketplace does not collapse under a crush of new users.

At the same time, administration officials said Tuesday that they had
decided not to inaugurate a big health care marketing campaign planned
for December out of concern that it might drive too many people to the
still-fragile HealthCare.gov.

Klein’s claim about the White House’s efforts to drive traffic seem to be directly at odds with the NY Times reporting on this (and a prior report at TPM). The White House may be more confident than they were weeks ago (when Bob Laszewski told Klein the site was in a defacto shutdown) but they are still waving a big caution flag about the potential to overwhelm the site. That’s not driving traffic.

If you read the rest of the Post piece you’ll also find an admission that there is no way to measure whether or not any of the administration’s claims about the site working for “80 percent” of users are true. The White House put this out knowing no one could prove or disprove it (apart from backend data they won’t share). It’s a junk stat designed to make a 20 percent failure rate sound good.


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