Building the interface for Obamacare isn't just "developing a website," it's developing an unprecedented national network that connects ALL our biggest national agencies (SS, HHS, IRS, SSA, DHS, VHA, Peace Corps, OPM and DOD) with ALL our state/city government offices - from NYC's City Hall to the records in the basement of East Bumfuck, USA. South Bumfuck, too, and that's in the deepest, reddest south.
I'll give you a billion dollars right now to build one algorithm that extracts, compares, matches, then confirms individual citizen data from the secure databases of all 50 state governments - including dozens run by Republicans determined to sabotage you. The algorithm must connect securely and convert the state's variables into a universal variable for the ACA's data hub.
The Obamacare website must knit together platforms from five huge federal agencies — Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration, HHS, the Treasury Department and the Department of Justice — each of which marches to its own IT specifications. It must also interact with separate systems set up by the 15 states that built their own exchanges, plus all of those outside insurers.OK. Ready? Go! ... Wait! Don't forget the legal hurdles:
It’s an unprecedented experiment in federal information technology.
“If they pull it off, they will be making IT history,” said Stephen Parente, director of the Medical Industry Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota and a former health care adviser to Sen. John McCain. “This has never been done before.”
Computer Matching Agreements are required for data exchanges between CMS and IRS, SSA, DHS, VHA, and DOD because information is transmitted from the data hub and matched against the other agencies’ records for use by the exchanges or Medicaid or CHIP agencies for use in eligibility determinations.Uh Oh, wait again!
I've lived in eleven states over my lifetime, and I have a very common name. The algorithm that executes when I click "SUBMIT APPLICATION" will have to compare all the data in all those states to make sure I haven't signed up there ... or the thousands of other women with my name.
Oh, and BTW - no, I was not born in 1917, even though two of the credit agencies insist I was, in spite of my repeated efforts to prove I'm not 97 years old. The last state I lived in kept sending me information about collecting social security. So, that magical SUBMIT APPLICATION button must parse inaccurate data, too.
Imagine what Janice Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele is going through?
It's not "just building a website" by any stretch of the imagination. I'm so sick of people saying it. Even web developers are saying it, when they clearly should know better. I'm just a graphic designer, but I've done enough web development to know a SUBMIT APPLICATION button doesn't just load the next page.
I get that it's frustrating. But I also get that it's technology that's never even been attempted before, so I'm patient. It's history being made.
After all, I've been waiting since 1997 to see a doctor. Now, the only thing between me an a doctor are the tech nerds that I love so much. They'll get it done.
If you're interested in reading more, check out the government status report from June: PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT Status of CMS Efforts to Establish Federally Facilitated Health Insurance Exchanges
[UPDATE] I just got a blast email from the White House titled, I kid you not, "More than just a website." Key points of the email:
Here are some of the things we've done in the meantime to make the process easier. Take a look, and pass this message along to those you know who are trying to sign up for health care:
• You can now preview plans and prices available in your area without filling out the online application.
• You can find out, with an improved calculator, whether your income and household size may qualify you for lower costs on your monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
• You can apply for coverage 4 ways: by phone, online, by mail with a paper application, or with the help of an in-person assister.
Thanks, and stay tuned for more updates.