A lot of people have had fun ridiculing the Obamacare website, and I especially enjoyed Jon Stewart’s take on it.


I have not visited the dysfunctional site, because I don’t want to, and (fortunately) don’t need to. As Megan McArdle pointed out, though, those who have finally gotten through and managed to sign on despite the huge difficulties involved are, predictably, the ones who most need health insurance but can’t get it. The highest risk people!! It’s what McArdle calls “our old friend adverse selection”:

…If relatively few people are buying insurance in the private marketplace, those people are likely to be older and sicker than the population that was projected to enroll. That makes it likely that premiums will rise quite a bit next year, scaring off young, healthy people even more.

Um, how smart is that?

It does not surprise me that a government website — and the government itself — would be hopelessly stupid and inefficient, but there’s another problem which is much more than a glitch.

If you believe the hype, the Obamacare proponents say that getting young people to sign up is of paramount importance, right?

So why is it that despite this primary goal of signing up young people, there is no Obamacare app for smart phones, and the silly web site is woefully incompatible with mobile devices?

I live in an overwhelmingly student neighborhood, and virtually all of them are connected, and online all the time with their smart devices. If for some reason I wanted to reach them with a commercial pitch, common sense would suggest that at minimum I would make it at least possible for them to place orders on their smart phones.  You know, like the way Amazon and Facebook and all successful online presences offer those “app” thingies?

Put charitably, the rollout of healthcare.gov has been a mess. Millward Brown Digital, a consulting firm, reports that a mere 1 percent of the 3.7 million people who tried to register on the federal exchange in the first week actually managed to enroll. Even if the problems are fixed, the debacle makes clear that it’s time for the government to change the way it ships code—namely, by embracing the approach to software development that has revolutionized the technology industry.

Companies such as Google (GOOG), Amazon.com (AMZN), Twitter, and Facebook (FB) all think in terms of platforms talking to applications. They deploy lots of small teams that are expected to ship new features and fixes all the time—sometimes daily.

Sheesh. This is such a no-brainer.

It’s as if young people are being systematically screened out!

You’d almost think they wanted this to fail.