HealthCare.gov is Very Extremely Average

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2013-10-24 – Jon Stewart thinks it’s a scandal that only 10% of the people who went to HealthCare.gov completed the process (i.e., bought health insurance—at approx. 02:40 of this video). I’m not exactly sure what Stewart means here or even if it is true (considering that he missed the rest of the story). But for most web sales activities, 10% is not a low number. It’s an average to high number. Check out this website that puts the average website conversion rate for professional or financial services at 10% and for education or healthcare at 8%.

Now I am not denying the apparent fact that there were serious problems with the rollout of HealthCare.gov. I’m sure there were horrendous problems and I think that it is important to fix them. My problem is with Stewart’s scandal mongering over the site’s performance, which appears to be very very extremely average.

Here’s one thing to remember, no insurance policy purchased today through HealthCare.gov will go into effect until January 1 at the earliest. And the open enrollment period actually extends until March 31. There are many options to consider and it’s not a cheap product. Is it really surprising that people might go into the site to check things out, but then wait a while to think things over before they make a purchase?

I’m not excusing the glitches. I have never had a happy relationship with the techies who build commercial websites. It doesn’t surprise me ever that commercial websites perform suboptimally. In fact, I would say that in the world of commercial websites suboptimal IS optimal. That’s not the way it should be, but that’s the way it is.

But Obamacare is not failing because of website glitches. Obamacare is not failing because HealthCare.gov didn’t sell out on the first day. A health insurance policy is not an iPhone. (And I’m not really sure what “selling out of insurance policies” would mean.)

This will take time. People are getting signed up (yes, this is true). More and more each day (this is also true). That is the point. In fact, this is exactly the experience that occurred in the Massachusetts (Romney) plan, which was the model for Obamacare: enrollments are slow but come at a steady pace. We shouldn’t be looking for instant gratification.

And here’s another point that you missed, Stewart. The health insurance exchanges are working just fine in states that complied with the ACA rollout scheme, which was that each state would implement its own exchanges. Some states refused to do this in a deliberate attempt to sabotage Obamacare. These are the states that are affected by any HealthCare.gov failures. The states that did what they were supposed to do are apparently just fine. HealthCare.gov was built to save opt-out states and was excessively complex as a result. Single-state exchange websites only had to comply with that state’s insurance laws. The multi-state HealthCare.gov had to comply with multiple state laws. That’s still not a good excuse, but it gives you a little context for the story.

We expect the Fox News folks to cry “the sky is falling” over something like this. Since when do we get crap like this from Jon Stewart?

It’s a shanda, Jon Stewart.

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2 responses to “HealthCare.gov is Very Extremely Average

  1. Steve, –first: I am delighted with yoour ‘love affair’ with Ted Cruz, a union made in heaven to be sure.

    You ‘defense’, sort of, of the rollout of the Obamacare website, is quite understandable but a bit of a stretch. As you know, I am in favor of a single-payer system (I believe we, as American citizens, should have a right to basic healthcare) based on the Medicare Advantange programs presently available to seniors. By–the-way, I am one of those who lost my health insurnance plan as a result of “Obamacare” but fortunately I am covered by the VA as a result of service in Vietnam so I am not at risk while awaitng for my new plan to effect. I have, however, found another plan, more expensive than the one that I lost but acceptable to me. The website had nothing to do with my temporary loss of insurance but the substance of the act did.

    We, as a nation, have to reconsider our medical services payment system. I have the feeling that the Affordable Care Act is not the ultimate solution.

    I hope all is well. Cheers, –Greg D.

    I have accepted your invitation to Linkedin. I am not sure I have posted much or anything on it.

  2. Greg– It’s always great to hear from you. We’ve talked about your views on healthcare before. I would prefer single payer to Obamacare. As a fallback, I would like to see a high-deductible single payer (a kind of health-care umbrella coverage), giving people the option to commercially insure up to the loss limit (which might be adjusted based on income). Obamacare is a fallback to that. But Obamacare is what we got. It makes little sense, but it makes more sense than the system it is replacing, which was/is a kind of legalized fraud for a lot of people and unaffordable by others.

    What I’m complaining about in this post, really, is how shrill media makes all problem apocalyptic. The website issue is not an apocalyptic problem. It is stupid, to be sure. But my experience with IT is that IT products are often stupid. Political products are also often stupid. With HealthCare.gov we have a mix of IT and politics. So that would make it stupid squared, right?

    And then Jon Stewart, who prides himself on seeing through the stupidity buys right into it. He’s getting too serious for his own good.

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