The GOP Aren’t the Only Fools

That was the gist of another great Conor Friersdorf Tweetdown last night:

As I said the other day, the GOP seems to be floundering around finding something to make this shutdown about. Democrats, of course, interpret this to mean that they are political geniuses. They might want to hold back on that, given what’s going on with Obamacare:

It’s a batting average that won’t land the federal marketplace for Obamacare into the Healthcare Hall of Fame.

As few as 1 in 100 applications on the federal exchange contains enough information to enroll the applicant in a plan, several insurance industry sources told CNBC on Friday. Some of the problems involve how the exchange’s software collects and verifies an applicant’s data.

“It is extraordinary that these systems weren’t ready,” said Sumit Nijhawan, CEO of Infogix, which handles data integrity issues for major insurers including WellPoint and Cigna, as well as multiple Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates.

Experts said that if Healthcare.gov’s success rate doesn’t improve within the next month or so, federal officials could face a situation in January in which relatively large numbers of people believe they have coverage starting that month, but whose enrollment applications are have not been processed.

“It could be public relations nightmare,” said Nijhawan. Insurers have told his company that just “1 in 100″ enrollment applicants being sent from the federal marketplace have provided sufficient, verified information.

Now, to be fair, a large part of this problem is the applicants themselves. Unsurprisingly — to anyone who isn’t Obama — the uninsured contain a high percentage of people who provide inaccurate or incomplete information on applications. But part of it is also Obamacare itself, which is shuddering along and which hasn’t definitively insured anyone yet. The website has been swamped — about 8 million hits since opening (although probably half of those are journalist checking to see if it works). But the problems are deeper than just a lot of web traffic. The system is having problems.

One of the thing I expect to emerge in the next few weeks is a push to delay some Obamacare requirements … from the Democrats. They are facing a very real possibility that the federal government will impose fines on people for not getting insurance because the exchanges weren’t ready for the load.

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