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Vic Sandler
HHS Chief Kathleen Sebelius said:
President Obama didn't know about the problems with the Affordable Care Act's website until days into its launch.
A: How many days into the launch was it before he knew about the problems?

CNN said:
It's not like no one saw this coming. A number of insurance companies complained of problems ahead of the October 1 launch, and the website crashed during a test run although just a few hundred users were on it.
B: How many days before the launch did the testers know about the problems?

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/22/politics/obamacare-sebelius-interview/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Did Obama ask Sibelius on a regular basis how things were going? If he did ask, how often did he ask? Was it more than A + B? When he did ask, what did she tell him? If he didn't ask, should we remind him that the ACA is called Obamacare in the press?

There were other problems besides the crashes. I don't have citations, but I heard that the passwords of early users were lost, and that information gathered by the website was garbled or incomplete when it arrived at the insurance companies. Were those parts of the website tested? Earlier, I heard that it was impossible to know how many people had successfully applied using the website. Is that because there is no way to query the database? Later, I heard that a half million people did successfully apply. How do they know that?

I can't think of any more right now. Are there any other questions you would like answered?

edward
A: How many days into the launch was it before he knew about the problems?

B: How many days before the launch did the testers know about the problems?

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/22/politics/obamacare-sebelius-interview/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Did Obama ask Sibelius on a regular basis how things were going? If he did ask, how often did he ask? Was it more than A + B? When he did ask, what did she tell him? If he didn't ask, should we remind him that the ACA is called Obamacare in the press?

There were other problems besides the crashes. I don't have citations, but I heard that the passwords of early users were lost, and that information gathered by the website was garbled or incomplete when it arrived at the insurance companies. Were those parts of the website tested? Earlier, I heard that it was impossible to know how many people had successfully applied using the website. Is that because there is no way to query the database? Later, I heard that a half million people did successfully apply. How do they know that?

I can't think of any more right now. Are there any other questions you would like answered?

Sorry we don't accept what you heard as being valid information.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
2021 Award
edward
My son was able to get far enough into the web site to find plans available in Arizona. He has had a pre existing condition albatross around his neck for the last three years.

His new platinum policy will save him over $100 per month. It is unfortunate that the web site failed the first day. On the other hand open enrollment doesn't end until March 31 2014. https://www.healthcare.gov Actually I doubt Sibelius knows much about the computer code and the inner workings of the web site. It looks more like another political witch hunt. Last edited: Vic Sandler Actually I doubt Sibelius knows much about the computer code and the inner workings of the web site. It looks more like another political witch hunt. This issue has nothing to do with knowing computer code or the inner workings of the web site. And it's not a witch hunt. Its about Sibelius and Obama not having a timely conversation about how things were going. Or having a conversation that failed to mention the elephant in the room. Gold Member How many people here have no idea that Kathleen Sibelius is a woman? I keep seeing "he" over and over and frankly have to discount the opinions in those posts. A little due diligence, please. Gold Member BTW, the Libyans swarmed that consulate with overwhelming force against unarmed Libyan guards. Right after the attack there were Monday-morning quarterbacks asking why the President didn't order air strikes. The nearest US fighter base was 2000 miles away. Fighter jets are fast, but not that fast. Even if the jets were "hot", fueled, armed, and ready to roll, it would have taken them hours to get to Benghazi, with no effect on the outcome. Practical issues have little effect on the beliefs of ideologues, but those "beliefs" are like believing in fairies. It is impossible for a reasonable person to "disprove" them. Vic Sandler It is unfortunate that the web site failed the first day. Today is the 24th day and the first time that I tried out the site. I tried twice, once at 1:30 pm, and once at 8:00 pm EST. In both cases, I was unable to create a login user name and password. This too is unfortunate. I have two criticisms of the site. First, the second page asks you which state you live in. The question is so low on the page that you can't see it unless you scroll down. But higher up on the same page it asks you whether you are an individual, or a business. I clicked on individual and it reloaded the page, but nothing changed. It took a while for me to realize that I needed to scroll down. Second, it asks a lot of questions before you can submit your request for a user name and password. Only after you have answered them all does it tell you that it's not up and running. Why not say that up front and spare me the effort? Here's another question for Sibelius. How would she rate the level of security of the website? Should I practice, more, the same, or less internet hygiene than I would with other sites? And here's a question for edward. Has your son contacted the insurance company to verify that they received correct information from the website? Here is a citation that indicates that he probably should. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/10/23/the-health-care-laws-most-important-number-834 The Washington Post said: The 834 transmissions have begun filtering out to health insurance plans. The only problem? A lot of them are wrong. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor http://news.yahoo.com/more-democrat...rns-website-blame-goes-002149096--sector.html Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS),. . . told reporters that in-house "business decisions" prompted CMS to require online visitors to create accounts before shopping for health plans and prompted the agency to assume the key role of system integrator for Healthcare.gov. . . . . QSSI produced the federal data hub and a software tool for creating online consumer accounts, which was at the center of early logjam problems. The design change involved turning off anonymous browsing and requiring online visitors to create accounts before researching health plan information and determining their eligibility for federal subsidies to help pay premiums. . . . . the testing schedule for Healthcare.gov was determined by CMS. Healthcare.gov is the online web portal for a federal health insurance marketplace that contractors described as one of the most complicated large-scale IT systems in existence. Most upper management have no clue how IT happens. They hire some IT manager who hires the staff and/or contractors to make it happen. Sometimes it does, sometimes is doesn't. Nevertheless, someone will have to look at how CMS was involved in directing the work/project. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Questions Congress should ask Sibelius. When did you stop beating your kids? Are you going to wear a witch costume on Halloween, or something different because that is what you wear every day? This is a witch hunt, so the Republicans might was well drop appearances that it isn't a witch hunt. Questions Congress should ask itself. What lessons can be learned from the problems with the healthcare.gov rollout? Why do so many government-led software projects fail? Are there systemic problems with the ways in which the government builds software? Are there systemic problems in the government's contracting mechanisms? Gold Member It is quite interesting that some elements of Congress are demanding information on the roll-out of a program that they are trying desperately to kill. Sebelius will be as open as possible IMO, because any failure in this regard would unleash the hounds. Good luck to her, because this manufactured "scandal" will probably go on for months if nothing juicier comes up. I hope she's tough. Vic Sandler Today at 10:30 am was my third attempt to create a user name and password and my third failure. 11:15 am was the fourth attempt and failure. This is the 25th unfortunate day for the website. Locrian Good luck to her, because this manufactured "scandal" will probably go on for months if nothing juicier comes up. Hmm, manufactured. Well, it certainly is a scandal. The federal exchanges will likely cost ten times (they’re already at 7 now, if memory serves) as much as estimated and the exchange performance has been, to date, a spectacular failure. Anyone who actually followed the construction of the federal exchanges knew they were being terribly mismanaged, and the media was catching on even before Oct 1. Contrary to popular belief, most exchange functions are pretty simple; the most difficult thing it has to do is communicate with other government entities, and they knew about that three years ago. The only way that someone could not know that the exchanges had serious problems is that they didn't try to find out. On the other hand I would agree the size of the scandal is overblown. The federal government may be really bad at this kind of project, but it only has to build the website once. . . or twice. Hopefully just twice. Then I hope it should be able to maintain it. If the gov't can maintain the site once it’s working, then the website problems will be lost to history as other and successes and failures come to light. Sebelius will get to claim both of those as well. edward A bit off topic but just how would they have test run a web site this large? According to the testimony by several of the contractors I watched on C span much of the information flows through their servers. Different contractors had different pieces of the web site to develop. Did they ever speak to each other? That question was never asked. Contractor A can say: "my portion works perfectly" but can they say: "my portion will communicate with contractor B's portion"? It is not like this is the first government system put together by private contractors has failed at first try, and that includes a lot of military equipment, hardware, and software. The website for me to access the local VA pharmacy and other services failed the first week it was online. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor A bit off topic but just how would they have test run a web site this large? That's not off-topic at all. HealthCare.gov is a poster child for how *not* to create a complex software system. The testing was abysmal. Start integrated testing one week prior to launch? That's close to a 100% guarantee for failure. Add in the facts that • Apparently nobody with technical skills was in charge of end-to-end integration and testing, • Work was split amongst 55 different contractors, many of whom apparently were forbidden from working together, • Interfaces apparently were ill-designed (if at all), • Apparently this system was built as if the waterfall model works, • Apparently the high-level people who saw the Potemkin demos of the system didn't see through the smoke and mirrors, • Apparently nobody on the government side listened to the insurance companies or their contractors who said that the system was not ready, and • Apparently there were significant political pressures to launch on October 1 no matter what. This system was designed to fail. Not intentionally, but it was nonetheless designed to fail. The waterfall model (wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterfall_model) never worked. It was known not to work in the 1960s. That did not stop the military from embodying the waterfall model in the sequence of standards DOD-STD-2167, DOD-STD-2167A, and MIL-STD-498, nor did it stop the government by strongly influencing IEEE 12207. That the waterfall model *never* worked is irrelevant. What's relevant is that it fits so nicely with how government works. (Or doesn't work, depending on your point of view.) To me, the failure of HealthCare.gov isn't so much about ObamaCare as it is about how uniformly badly governments do when they develop complex software systems. Modern software development should pay a lot of attention to quality, to cost estimation and cost control, to interfaces, and to a concept of testing always preceding development. Testing of all sorts (unit tests, integrated tests, end-to-end tests) should start from day one. On day one, the non-existent software of course fails all tests. That's not a problem on day one; it is in fact a good thing. On the other hand, it is a very big problem on launch day - 5. 1 person edward Great wiki link DH. Thanks Mentor To me, the failure of HealthCare.gov isn't so much about ObamaCare as it is about how uniformly badly governments do when they develop complex software systems. Thanks for the great technical explanation, DH. I have two basic problems with government run healthcare systems; the philosophical and the practical. The practical being that I just don't think it is possible for a government to run a complicated program effectively. And as complicated as ObamaCare is (er: it doesn't look to me like it should be that complicated, but ok), it isn't even close to a full-fledged government health insurance program. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Sure they can. It just takes a while. It's just as much a mistake to think the government cannot run a complicated program effectively as it is to expect them to run it effectively from day one. What Congress should do is to use this debacle as a wedge into investigating why the federal government is so particularly effective at getting software wrong at first, and at high cost, before they eventually do get it right. But they won't. They will instead cover their faces with egg yet again, which is something that Congress is particularly effective at doing, with the Republican-led House leading the charge -- this time around. Democrats have been good at this too in the past, but not this time around. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor • Apparently there were significant political pressures to launch on October 1 no matter what. That's what I heard today. Apparently the administration decided that HealthCare.gov had to go live on October 1, the first day of the current fiscal, because of the pressure to show that ACA/Obamacare would work. It seems that the political descision/judgement overrode the technical judgement. It should have been delayed until appropriate testing was completed, AND the bugs worked out. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor That's what I heard today. Apparently the administration decided that HealthCare.gov had to go live on October 1, the first day of the current fiscal, because of the pressure to show that ACA/Obamacare would work. It seems that the political descision/judgement overrode the technical judgement. That happens again and again. It's SOP with regard to government and technology. It should have been delayed until appropriate testing was completed, AND the bugs worked out. Testing should have started much, much earlier so the key bugs could have been fixed. All the bugs? That's pretty much impossible given a code base of 500 million lines of code. Given what I've read, they didn't have a clue regarding how many bugs they had. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Homework Helper Well, the ACA is quite clear that penalties (read taxes) are to be assessed for individuals who don't have coverage in calendar year 2014. Because of the dates on which coverage becomes effective after enrollment, in order to have effective coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014, one must have enrolled by Dec. 15, 2013. Now enrolling an entire country of 300 million plus citizens (less those whose health plans haven't been torpedoed by the ACA and those favored with exemptions from coverage by the administration, etc.) between Oct. 1 and Dec. 15 is pretty ambitious, even if the software worked perfectly as intended. You can imagine the chaos that would ensue if, for example, everyone had to renew their automobile tags in the same period. The various state DMVs would be swamped. The blame for this stinker (the ACA) needs to be laid where it belongs: at the feet of its creators. They manufactured 3000 pages of BUMF in the original legislation that nobody read before it was passed, and consequently, when all of the inconvenient deadlines started to loom out of the mists of the distant future into the present, they doubled-downed on stupid and refused to compromise on implementation. The latest shut-down occurred, in part, because the administration and the majority leader in the Senate were too proud to admit that this legislation, their signature achievement, was poorly conceived from the start and that it needed more time to be implemented properly. Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member 2021 Award Now enrolling an entire country of 300 million plus citizens (less those whose health plans haven't been torpedoed by the ACA and those favored with exemptions from coverage by the administration, etc.) between Oct. 1 and Dec. 15 is pretty ambitious, even if the software worked perfectly as intended. Actually, you have until March 31st to sign up without penalties, and don't you think saying 300 million people, less some details that you stick into a parenthesis, is a bit over exaggerating the number of people that have to sign up? Locrian Actually, you have until March 31st to sign up without penalties, Agreed. Although we should all note that it was just October 23rd that this became true. Prior to that one needed to sign up in February not to get hit with the tax. and don't you think saying 300 million people, less some details that you stick into a parenthesis, is a bit over exaggerating the number of people that have to sign up? Agreed. Nowhere near 300 million people need to sign up through the website. 5% of that, max, and more likely 7 - 9 million. edward Well, the ACA is quite clear that penalties (read taxes) are to be assessed for individuals who don't have coverage in calendar year 2014. Because of the dates on which coverage becomes effective after enrollment, in order to have effective coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014, one must have enrolled by Dec. 15, 2013. Now enrolling an entire country of 300 million plus citizens (less those whose health plans haven't been torpedoed by the ACA and those favored with exemptions from coverage by the administration, etc.) between Oct. 1 and Dec. 15 is pretty ambitious, even if the software worked perfectly as intended. You can imagine the chaos that would ensue if, for example, everyone had to renew their automobile tags in the same period. The various state DMVs would be swamped. The blame for this stinker (the ACA) needs to be laid where it belongs: at the feet of its creators. They manufactured 3000 pages of BUMF in the original legislation that nobody read before it was passed, and consequently, when all of the inconvenient deadlines started to loom out of the mists of the distant future into the present, they doubled-downed on stupid and refused to compromise on implementation. The latest shut-down occurred, in part, because the administration and the majority leader in the Senate were too proud to admit that this legislation, their signature achievement, was poorly conceived from the start and that it needed more time to be implemented properly. According to the Henry J Kaiser Foundation, and I don't know if they are left right or in between, there were over 47 million uninsured Americans in 2012. Was that 300 million number you mentioned just for shock effect? http://kff.org/uninsured/fact-sheet/key-facts-about-the-uninsured-population/ People who have existing insurance don't have to do anything. People who are uninsured because they can't afford it can get a tax credit. The available tax credit can be given in advance and go directly to the health insurance company that the person has selected. http://www.irs.gov/uac/The-Premium-Tax-Credit The more I read about the ACA the better it sounds. The countries we must compete with in the global market all have some form of government provided health care. At least the ACA still uses private companies. How about the old competition in the market place is good for us mantra the right is always spouting? Is that not valid now? Don't try to fool anyone by saying the reason for the last shut down was the Senate. It was about the Tea party trying to defund Obama Care. That is no way to legislate and the American people quite clearly blamed the Republican party. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...obama-shutdown-cruz-mcconnell-mccain/3090819/ Vic Sandler Now I know why I haven't been able to get a user name and password. The first time I tried, the website spun its wheels for about two minutes and then told me that it failed. When I tried the second time, it failed right away and with a different error message. In each of the subsequent attempts, I got the same behavior as in the second attempt. It struck me that the error message gave no clue as to what had failed. Normally, an error message would have a code number or some other way of identifying the part of the program that failed. That way you don't just call in to say "It failed", you can actually tell them what went wrong. That started a train of thought that led me to ask myself, what if I had actually succeeded the first time and the error was a timeout. I tried to log in with my original password and failed again. Then I clicked on 'Forgot your password?' to see what would happen. Bingo. I got an e-mail with a link to where I could reset my password. Since I didn't supply the e-mail address, it means that the website has my original login information. That's why I can't create a user name and password. I already have one. The link they sent me did not work. I got the following error message: healthcare.gov said: We weren't able to process your request because we couldn't find a Marketplace profile that matched the information that you provided. Douglas Adams said: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in a moment of reasoned lucidity which is almost unique among its current tally of five million, nine hundred and seventy-three thousand, five hundred and nine pages, says of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation products that "it is very easy to be blinded to the essential uselessness of them by the sense of achievement you get from getting them to work at all. In other words – and this is the rock-solid principle on which the whole of the Corporation's Galaxywide success is founded – their fundamental design flaws are completely hidden by their superficial design flaws." Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member 2021 Award Vic I had a similar experience. I tried making an account, it timed out, then an hour later I got an email saying I had an account made. I couldn't log in, so figured I mistyped my password and reset it, and now I still can't log in (though it can send me the link to change my password and knows my security questions, so clearly I have an account). It's a total mystery to me how they even set the website up that it can fail like this for me. Gold Member Vic I had a similar experience. I tried making an account, it timed out, then an hour later I got an email saying I had an account made. I couldn't log in, so figured I mistyped my password and reset it, and now I still can't log in (though it can send me the link to change my password and knows my security questions, so clearly I have an account). It's a total mystery to me how they even set the website up that it can fail like this for me. The state sites are awesome. I got my quote within 3 minutes.$75/month when I retire.

It's good to be poor.

edward
Now I have heard everything. "almost" My very religious sister in law has just informed me that the website failed because:

The federal healthcare reform website now includes a “same-sex partner” filter to help same-sex couples find an insurance plan that covers both individuals. She also stated that the ACA was too long and complicated to ever be put on a website.

I asked her if I could see the owners manual for her 2013 Toyota Camry. It had thirty pages just to explain opening and closing and locking the doors with the smart key.

Vic Sandler
I gave up and called the 1-800 number. I just got off the phone after a two and a half hour conversation that is the equivalent of using the website. The woman I spoke to was just asking me the questions off of the screen and entering the information in the textboxes. I won't know until tomorrow if the information she took down actually made it to the database. I was told to try and log in tomorrow, but if I can't, I can call the 1-800 number again and get expedited help.

Some of the questions were asked more than once. This indicates to me that various parts of the program don't communicate with each other so the information needs to be entered more than once.

Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
According to the Henry J Kaiser Foundation, and I don't know if they are left right or in between, there were over 47 million uninsured Americans in 2012.

Was that 300 million number you mentioned just for shock effect?

People who have existing insurance don't have to do anything. People who are uninsured because they can't afford it can get a tax credit. The available tax credit can be given in advance and go directly to the health insurance company that the person has selected.

The number of uninsured may have been 47 million in 2012, but that is a moving target as several existing health care plans no longer meet the coverage requirements of the ACA, and as a result, their current members have been told to seek other coverage. Perhaps they will be able to find a private plan, but I'm sure that all will not and consequently be introducing themselves to healthcare.gov. Other workers, like those at UPS, have also recently been informed that their spouses will no longer be eligible for enrollment on the UPS health plan, and as a result, they will be thrown into the health care market for individual coverage.

The subsidies available to defray the cost of healthcare premiums are available only to those who purchase insurance coverage through one of the state exchanges or healthcare.gov. No subsidies are available from the government if, by some stroke of luck, your private plan remains in operation after Jan. 1, 2014. You (or your employer, if coverage is still available) are responsible 100% for paying all premiums under your private plan.

The subsidies are dependent on your stated income at the time of purchase. You are purchasing a product (health insurance) which is going to be used in the future, and the amount of the subsidies (if any) are based on what you say your income will be during that upcoming year. After 2014 is over with, you will still have to reckon with the IRS on whether your claimed subsidy was justified by the income you received during 2014. If your income increased in 2014 above the amount on which your subsidy was based, surprise, you may have to pay back all or part of that subsidy.

[The motto of Robert Heinlein applies here: There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.]

This conundrum (or quirk, or landmine sown in the bowels of the ACA) has been clearly illustrated recently, in bluest San Francisco of all places, by using info provided by the Kaiser Foundation:

(Ah, San Francisco, home to Nancy Pelosi, who said "But we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it....")

Last edited:
Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
The state sites are awesome. I got my quote within 3 minutes.

\$75/month when I retire.

It's good to be poor.

Are they throwing in a free Unicorn, too?

Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
Another point to remember is that the Employer Mandate under the ACA has been suspended for 2014. Next year will probably see more employers cutting their employees hours below 29 per week, laying off employees to get below 50 full time equivalents, and dropping health coverage altogether and paying the fines (read taxes). There will be a lot of new people looking for coverage this time next year on the exchanges. I hope the exchange web sites are fixed by then.

Vic Sandler
At the end of that two and half hour phone call last night, I was told that I would be able to log into the website and complete the process this morning. However, that is not the case. I called the 1-800 number again and was told that the information I gave last night would not be available for 24 to 48 hours after the end of the call. So there are still glitches to be worked out in the phone system as well. However, after an exchange of questions and answers akin to pulling teeth, the woman told me that it is possible to complete the entire process on the phone and never go to the website. I don't necessarily believe everything or even anything that I hear on that phone line, but it is my intention to satisfy my legal responsibilities without as much as a single click.

edward
At the end of that two and half hour phone call last night, I was told that I would be able to log into the website and complete the process this morning. However, that is not the case. I called the 1-800 number again and was told that the information I gave last night would not be available for 24 to 48 hours after the end of the call. So there are still glitches to be worked out in the phone system as well. However, after an exchange of questions and answers akin to pulling teeth, the woman told me that it is possible to complete the entire process on the phone and never go to the website. I don't necessarily believe everything or even anything that I hear on that phone line, but it is my intention to satisfy my legal responsibilities without as much as a single click.

I am just a bit curious about your attempts to sign up on the website. Do you really want insurance coverage through the ACA? Are you just trying to verbalize your dislike of OBAMA CARE? Or do you just dislike Kathleen Sebelius.

It certainly isn't mandatory to sign if you already have insurance. You can still by a private policy from any company not involved with ACA.

I wonder how many people are hitting the website just to see if it works? I would imagine that people of both parties are doing that. Ironically they must need a certain number of people trying just so they (not really sure just who they are) can see what is working and what isn't.

Vic Sandler