Never mind what you think of the Affordable Care Act. Never mind what your perceptions are of its impact, or how it will affect health care in this nation. This is now simply a story of execution – or botched execution as it were – of a major government effort. It is a story of a failure more colossal than anyone wanted to imagine.
Everyone who knows me knows my politics are on the right. I have not been a fan of Obamacare, predicting it will be a debacle of epic proportions. When I made that prediction, however, I was really talking about the long term effects of the program. The bureaucracy, the mandates, the taxes, combined with my anticipated failure of millions of young healthy Americans to actually sign up and support the program with their dollars. I had no idea that the program would completely fall on its face the very first week it was launched. The debacle already exists, and it is in the form of healthcare.gov, the website intended as the focal point of new policy distribution. Very few people, it would seem, have been successfully able to do anything with the site except waste their time.
Evidence thus far is that very few people have signed up. Most can’t get through, and stories abound about sticker shock for those who did navigate the site successfully, only to discover that “affordable” is not free or even cheap.
Despite my admitted political slant, I thought the first couple days of reported website troubles were almost to be anticipated. There are often small glitches and unanticipated consequences in launching a massive program. Still, as the days start heading into weeks, and the problems show no sign of abating, you start to wonder how this could happen. And then you learn the bombshell information that completely changes the dynamic for you. You learn what the federal government paid for this website that has completely failed the effort.
Taxpayers paid more than $500 Million for the development of healthcare.gov. $500,000,000.00+. For a virtual brick. That is such an outlandish number, it boggles the mind. Heads need to roll, Goddamnit.
How can this be? Defenders of the site say there has been overwhelming interest in the website and health care program. Fair enough. Let's look at the stats, shall we?
Alexa.com, a website traffic ranking service owned by Amazon.com, tells us that healthcare.gov currently ranks at #4,536 in worldwide traffic. That simply means, of all the websites out there, it is the 4,536 busiest site. Very impressive given it has only been in existence a week or so. For comparison, Google.com is #1. Facebook is #2, LinkedIn.com is #8, and ebay.com is #22. My own site, WorkersCompensation.com, is #93,418 (When you are 93,418th, you try harder). By Alexa standards, all of these sites, with the exception of this one, are dealing with much more traffic than healthcare.gov. Yet they work. They actually work with incredible consistency. The reality is there are over 4,000 websites handling more traffic than healthcare.gov, and likely every one of them is doing so without incident.
And not a single one of them cost more than $500,000,000.00 to launch. Nowhere near it.
I could have personally saved the taxpayers millions of dollars. I could build a website that under pressure would fold like a lawn chair for well under $500 million. I would've done it for half that amount.
But, believe it or not, this is not the worst news. The worst part of this story is that this entire operation was set to the standards that will soon be dictating our healthcare. This could be a bigger debacle than I thought.
That is, if they can ever get the damn website working.