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I'll make this as short as possible—I'm a busy person, as are most of you—but some length won't be avoidable. I hope you'll forgive typos. I am not going to go through and proofread/revise, for time reasons.

Let me start by going for the jugular. The trouble with the Obamacare rollout goes deeper than "website trouble." There, I've said it. I think it's time we admit it and shift from defending the rollout or qualifying its failure by providing alternatives, and move in our engagements with critics toward defending the ACA as policy and a set of goals instead, conceding that the rollout has been badly botched—and not just on the website.

Here's my story. Of particular note are the post-website bits.

Background and Disclaimers

Let me start by saying that I voted for Obama twice. I have a bumper sticker on my car that says "I <3 Obamacare" that has caused a certain amount of grief for us in my current home state. I was at the Healthcare.gov website the moment it launched.

I'm not someone who was inclined from the start to be critical of the ACA or of any particulars of its implementation. More to the point, I'm just the sort of person—family with kids, a mix of self-employment and part-time employment that may add up to a nice income but doesn't come with any kind of group insurance—that the ACA ought to be targeting most.

Website Experience

By now we've all heard of the poor website experiences. I experienced these, too.

  • Couldn't create an account on the first several tries
  • Then couldn't get it to verify with the email click-back
  • Then couldn't get the entered password to work
  • Then couldn't log in

I burned through about two weeks and five separate email addresses trying to get a working login (you can't reuse an email address to create a new account). Aside for the geeks: I'm no technophobe. My consulting work is precisely in web development and systems integration. I can code in a pile of languages, going all the way back to FORTH and K&R (before ANSI) C on various RTOSes. This was not ham-handedness on my part. It was me trying to kludge my way into a system with obvious issues.

"Working" Login 1: Finally around mid-October I got a login working. Started filling out an application. Was repeatedly unable to get more than 2-3 questions in before the system would error out on me and ask me to try again later. Fine.

About a week after that, was finally able to get through all the questions—sort of—on that login. Got stuck in a user interface loop—would go through the answer, save, answer, save rigamaroll all the way through to the last question which, strangely, was presented without greying out the previous question—two active "save" buttons on the same page. When I "saved" on either, the page would scroll right back to the top and put me at the first question again. All my data was still there, so I'd "save, save, save, save, save" through dozens of questions again, get down to the last questions, "save" on either of them, and—back to the top.

I went through the loop about 10 times over 2-3 days before I decided that that account instance and the data associated with it was effectively borked relative to the UI flowchart.

Decided to burn another email address, create yet another new account, and start all over again.

"Working" Login 2: This time, answered all questions (yet again) all the way through to the end. Only one save button. Clicked. Page load starts. Hallelujah! Or so I thought. Actually, one step further than before turned out not to be the vaunted "list of options" but rather a message saying that my application couldn't be submitted and I should try again later.

Logged in again later only to find...that my application was blank. Answered all the questions again, got to the last question again, "successfully" saved again, and...couldn't be submitted, try again later.

Tried one more time the next day. Same result. Decided to burn another email address and create another account.

"Working" Login 3: This time, answering the questions was messy. Data was appearing in the wrong places and in buggy ways—fields for my kids' names and SSNs would came up populated with my name and SSN already filled out, or my wife's name and SSN, even though it was the first time through the form; validation errors saying they couldn't verify the immigration details provided even though they had been marked as citizens and no immigration details had been provided for them, the system asking me to choose a family member's address from multiple instances of the same address, and so on.

Fought my way through the form entering and re-entering data in circles, gradually zeroing in on "completeness" with some measure of accuracy.

Finally was able to save. This time, was asked to sign electronically. Hallelujah!

Only—when I checked the status, it told me that my application was incomplete. Went back into it and naturally half the data was missing. Okay, Joe. Re-entered everything. Signed again.

Got a—sort of—approval notice. Hallelujah!

Only—still no options. Instead, got a message saying that myself and kids had been approved, but my wife was missing identifying information. I'd been afraid of that, with all the data messiness in the form that time through. Said it couldn't give options for the family until I called the call center to provide her identifying information and complete her part of the application.

Beyond the Website: Bigger Problems

Here's where things get ugly.

I'd imagined that I was now home free. Call the toll-free number. Provide whatever data (SSN, presumably?) hadn't made it into the system. Get options.

After all, they were (and are) directing people to the phone system. The phone system "works."

Not really.

Call 1, Problem 1: They couldn't find my application. The one whose approval (but for wife's missing information) I'd printed out. Couldn't find it under my name, SSN, or phone number. Since I'd just printed it out, I offered the application ID number. Operator disappeared for a while to figure out whether they could use it. Finally he decided that they could, but I'd had to volunteer and push for that, otherwise—no "us" in the system.

Call 1, Problem 2: He pulled up the application by ID number (I still wonder what sort of shape it was in, given that it couldn't be associated to my SSN, name, or phone). He promptly told me that the kinds of data needed he wasn't qualified or allowed to accept. A representative would have to call me back in 4-5 days before 10:00 PM and they would be qualified to accept and add the data to complete the application.

Call 1, Problem 3: No callback. Fourteen days later and I still hadn't had a callback.

Well, I got it today—but I was otherwise engaged (middle of the business day, middle of a meeting, hadn't made space this week as I had previously because I wasn't expecting the call anymore) and the rep had to leave a voice message.

Voicemail 1, Problem 1: The voicemail gave two numbers, then told me to be sure to call "this" number back. When I do, it said, the system will recognize my number and I'll be immediately asked if I want to be transferred to the Advanced Resolution Center, where an operator will help me with my particular issue. This "opportunity" for immediate transferral will only be available for 30 days. Um, okay. Which number is "this" number?

Voicemail 1, Problem 2: Called them both. Called them both from both of my numbers, just in case I'd applied with my second number for some reason. Didn't matter—the system didn't offer me any transfer to any center. In the first three calls, it dumped me into the general customer rep queue—the one that hadn't been able to help me the first time around. The first three times, I was told that the wait would be at least 20 minutes. The fourth time (having tried all combinations of my number and their number) I decided to wait and speak to a rep. This time, I got one immediately—though 30 seconds ago I'd been told that the wait was over 20 minutes.

Call 2, Problem 1: Once again, the rep can't find my accounts at first. We do name, SSN, phone number. Now he's trying other systems/other things. We start going through all the email addresses I've used to create accounts. Finally we strike pay dirt.

Call 2, Problem 2: With my account found, I tell him my story and that I just need to finish an already approved application by providing some (presumably missing) identifying detail for my wife for our application to the Advanced Resolution Center. He says that he doesn't know what the Advanced Resolution Center is or how to connect me to them. He goes to ask. He comes back. He offers to help me himself instead, without saying whether he's discovered what this center I'd been referred to earlier in the day (supposedly at this very number) actually is, or why, if someone in his position can help me, they couldn't help me the first time around, and why, if someone in his position can help me, the callback earlier in the day had referred me to the Advanced Resolution Center and provided me with clear directions for reaching it (even if they didn't turn out to work). I decide not to look a gift horse in the mouth, and to let him help me instead.

Call 2, Problem 3: He asks me which application I need to complete—he's got three in the system for me. I tell him that I don't know; so far as I'd known, only one had ever been submitted, though I have many logins and have made many attempts—many more than three.

Call 2, Problem 4: He asks if he can go into them to see which one is the one that needs to be completed. I say yes. He tries them all. He says they're all empty. Between the two of us, tossing identifying details and numbers back and forth, we can find no trace of the completed application that was already approved (but for missing identifying detail) the first time around, and whose conditional approval is sitting in front of me.

Now at this point, I have to interrupt the narrative of problems and say that he did offer to help me to complete a telephone application at this point. But it was at 10:00 PM tonight. And my application is long. Multiple employers (all part-time). Consulting work. Details. I am not interested in playing an hour-plus game of telephone at 10:00 in the evening. So I turned him down. Maybe that would have worked out perfectly.

But what I did instead was ask about how the paper application is handled. I had already acquired the paper application based on my previous experiences, but handn't completed it becasue I had some questions based on my admittedly cursory glance:

  • Why is it so much longer than the online application for my state on Healthcare.gov?
  • If I submit a paper application and am approved, what is the next step for me? How do I take action? Also a paper-based process? An online-based one? A telephone-based one? How long will it take?

So I asked him these questions.

Call 2, Problem 5: His answers to these questions.

  • The paper application is long because it incorporates all questions for all states.
  • Once they receive it, someone just like him (his words, not mine) will sit down, log into the system, and fill out the smaller state application electronically for us, selecting only the needed answers from all of the answers we've provided based on the questions that the system asks them. Then, the approval process runs through the same system as Healthcare.gov.
  • I will get results by logging into Healthcare.gov.

Call 2, Problem 6: His inability to answer my obvious follow-up questions. If I submit a paper application, which of the many logins I've already created will be the one to which the paper application gets attached? He doesn't know. He suggests the first one. The first one is one that I couldn't get verified with the email click-back early on. I've never logged into it and still can't log into it. He suggests they're all connected by SSN and it may appear in all of them. But when I say, "So it doesn't matter which one I log into, it'll show up in all of them?" he seems to balk. I ask about the duplicate application problem—right how, Healthcare.gov only allows one application per login. Every login I've managed to create and actually be able to log into has an in-process or existing application. Will this present problems for a new application? No clear answer.

Final disposition: He's going to escalate my case. Someone will call us back (once again) in 4-5 business days. Humf.

Bigger Picture

Website trouble is one thing. This has been presented as a systems integration problem and I've agreed with this—the obstacles are huge on this front, and I've said so in comments. On the other hand, some of the UI experiences outlined above (looping UI with no exit, data being transposed into later fields, different UI flows in successive registrations) suggest a total coding mess, maybe even on the client side, not just systems integration issues—though I don't want to claim anything here because at the end of the day I just don't know and haven't done any technical detective work to try to make an educated guess.

But what about:

  • Call center personnel that can't address the need to add simple missing details to an otherwise already approved application? I still have the "congratulations, you're all eligible, we just need one more detail before we can show your options" printout in front of me.
  • Escalation callbacks that don't happen even close to within given time frames?
  • Already submitted and verified data, the subject of the callbacks in the first place, disappearing without a trace in their systems, well beyond what ought to be the geography of the website itself or its backend?
  • A paper process that involves requiring end-users to fill out extensive applications on which only some data is ever used, then paying countless reps for the countless hours required to process each of these into the system selectively and adaptively, with all the room for human error that ensues, rather than paying up front, once, to produce per-state PDF forms the first time around, saving end-users extra work and turning the entry task into rote data entry at most?
  • Completely incorrect instructions/explanations in escalation callbacks that describe processes and departments unknown to reps in the main queue?
  • An apparent almost total lack of knowledge about how the paper application works, or how end users will receive its results, or how these will interact with existing logins?
  • Different website errors and behaviors on serial registrations that suggest ad-hoc bug fixing and development still without testing and without any attention being paid to existing data, accounts, or their states?

Folks, until today I was dubious but willing to still chalk this all up to "website trouble." The challenges are extreme. But the call center stuff? The missing Advanced Resolution Center? The total fogginess on what the paper application process actually looks like, or how its results will be accessed and acted upon? And the suggestion that reps are sitting down and actually filling out entirely new applications on end-users' behalves by selectively pulling from the paper application on a state-by-state basis, using the same infrastructure that's driving Healthcare.gov into a ditch?

This isn't "website trouble." This, at the end of the day, is a big, big project and organizational management SNAFU, IMHO. It's bad. And after today, I'm not at all convinced that things will improve significantly by January 1st.

I hope they will...But there's only so much that Google can do to assist. Once we're beyond the website and into this level of messiness in the organizational side of things, it starts to look like someone(s) are just really bad at running things.

The Takeaway

We can't be too smug about this. Until now, I've been telling people I know that are critics the website will get fixed, that it's a massive technical undertaking that had impossible deadlines and impossible complexity, that people can just call in or complete a paper application.

Silly me, I was saying those things on faith.

Now that I've had more experience with the call center and had the discussion about the paper application, I think we're going to have to be careful about suggesting that people are overly critical of the rollout.

As far as I can tell, it is, in fact a train wreck. Best to admit this up front and defend the principle behind the ACA and its eventual goals. Defending the rollout (not just of the website) looks to be a losing proposition; let's be sure that we acknowledge that it's a horrible rollout while still defending the absolute necessity of healthcare reform and the idea that the ACA itself is not the same thing as its rollout, and that it's needed policy, regardless of how badly things have gone at the beginning.

And if anyone has a direct number for the "Advanced Resolution Center," I'd love to have it, if this mysterious department exists.

Maybe they can find the completed application approval that mysteriously disappeared, along with the application itself, and help me to put in the five seconds worth of data that was missing the one time I managed to actually get Healthcare.gov to "work" for me. I have the approved application number sitting right here in front me.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ok, you Obama lovers... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925

    Tell me why everything this guy said is a bunch of Tea Party lies.

    •  Well, is it this from the diary: (16+ / 0-)
      My consulting work is precisely in web development and systems integration. I can code in a pile of languages, going all the way back to FORTH and K&R (before ANSI) C on various RTOSes.
      Or this from a comment from January 2013?:
      I'm a professional sociologist in an academic setting.

      Rand Paul is to civil liberties as the Disney Channel is to subtle and nuanced acting.

      by Tortmaster on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 03:52:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oops, good catch, (8+ / 0-)

        Also, the person you're commenting to is a dead threader who makes this sort of remark....

        [new]  This is news? (0+ / 0-)

        TIME Magazine has been sucking up to the Democrats for years. That's why I stopped reading it.

        by CarlosSoriano on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 07:47:00 PM IST

        So, um..............

        Ron Reagan: "Sarah Palin's constituency are people who wear red rubber noses and bells on their shoes."

        by AnnetteK on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 04:00:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  A man of many talents... (8+ / 0-)

        I'm sure he'll be a lawyer or judge in AdamB's next diary.

        (nice find! pretty much puts anything he says into question including the 'story' behind this diary).

        Maybe hes a novelist... :p

        The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

        by fToRrEeEsSt on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 04:03:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Check my comment below. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          samddobermann

          Enough to cause people to want to stop commenting on DKos for fear of having to choose between keeping job(s) and being called a liar.

          -9.63, 0.00
          "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

          by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 05:27:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I suppose there's an easy explanation for ... (5+ / 0-)

            ... this in your diary:

            Let me start by saying that I voted for Obama twice. I have a bumper sticker on my car that says "I <3 Obamacare" that has caused a certain amount of grief for us in my current home state.
            ... versus this in support of an April 10, 2010 diary entitled, "Can Daily Kos accept the truth about the health care bill"
            Part of the reason for that is that on the left any deviance from the party line is condemned as "Naderism." The fact that dissent is politically untenable within the left coalition means that the left offers nothing to those that really aren't thrilled with corporatism.

            It's a strange world when it's the left becoming a fascist bloc of corporatism, regressivism, and diversity-verboten groupspeak.

            ... or this from a diary entitled, "Fact Check: Obama didn't campaign on the Public Option."
            "Reality Based Community?"

            Give me a f'in break. There are in fact a pile of mindless Obamabots here.

            "It only counts as campaigning if it meets a certain quantitative threshold as a ratio to non-mentions! Therefore he did not campaign on it! (All those other mentions were purely for effect!)"

            "It only counts as campaigning if it occurs in media invented after 1945 but before 1985! Therefore he did not campaign on it! (Web-based media are completely unimportant as we all know the Internet did not matter to the Obama campaign!)"

            "He campaigned on a public plan, which is not only substantively but in fact radically different from a public option. In fact, it is a difference of at least 4-6 letters!"

            The left is burning credibility like gasoline in a Hummer.

            Rand Paul is to civil liberties as the Disney Channel is to subtle and nuanced acting.

            by Tortmaster on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 06:42:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  All true. Yes, all three. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              samddobermann

              And there are many here who could say the same three things.

              Your point?

              -9.63, 0.00
              "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

              by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 06:51:31 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  My point is that ... (4+ / 0-)

                ... you presented three datapoints that were pretty easily verifiable in your diary. To wit:

                1.  You love you some Obama.

                2.  You love you some ObamaCare; and

                3.  You are currently employed creating vast information super-highways and are quite likely one of the greatest computational minds of our time.

                Now, I was intentionally hyperbolic in the above-three descriptions because I want to prove a point. Context matters. I can be hyperbolic in discrediting your claims because all I'm doing is discrediting your claims. You, on the other hand, cannot be hyperbolic because you're trying to make an important policy argument. Why the double standard? Because if you are hyperbolic--if you indulge in any serious amount of "puffery"--you lose credibility for your policy argument.

                Rand Paul is to civil liberties as the Disney Channel is to subtle and nuanced acting.

                by Tortmaster on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 07:15:57 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not hyperbolic. Just (as you say) contextual: (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Bozmo2, Mr Robert, Dave925

                  1. I voted me some Obama, twice
                  2. I don't love Obama
                  3. I don't love Obamacare vs. single payer, not at all
                  4. I nevertheless have defended Obamacare to the hilt as the policy that we have when health care reform was badly needed, particularly when addressing conservative audiences
                  5. I have an I <3 Obamacare sticker on my car for that reason
                  6. (And bringing in others' comments) I am a professional sociologist and a university faculty member
                  7. I also do consulting and research work in which I write piles of code every day, and I work on big data projects involving multiple networked systems and infrastructures
                  8. I am not one of the "greatest computational minds of our time," but I do go back a long way and I am not technologically naive by any stretch of the imagination; I am a paid developer working on serious computational problems—related to society and social research

                  The fact that people are having trouble with these things is both sad and also illuminates our current social configuration and many of the policy issues that we face regarding labor, education, technology, and more.

                  -9.63, 0.00
                  "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

                  by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 07:28:44 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You came to daily kos ... (4+ / 0-)

                    ... this morning to be a witness. The reader will judge the credibility of your testimony.

                    I would only add, in closing, that the reader might arrive at the conclusion that you professed a love for ObamaCare in the diary for the reason that it added a legitimacy and poignancy to your story, and it made you a sympathetic figure for now having to denounce it.  

                    Rand Paul is to civil liberties as the Disney Channel is to subtle and nuanced acting.

                    by Tortmaster on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 07:47:30 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I can see that there's substance behind your name (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Mr Robert, samddobermann

                      here on the site.

                      I came here to post in the diary that I created about the ACA rollout. I posted it last night well after midnight my time and went to bed without participating.

                      I didn't particularly expect to end up talking about me or defending me. And I'll stop now, because, as you say, I've now said enough about me.

                      But the rollout is a train wreck, it turns out in the call and paper sides of things as well. And that's a damned shame, because the left needs the (D) party to get a success out of this one—and my sense now is that this is not going to look much better at year's end in the public view.

                      More personally, I want the ACA to succeed. Very much so. It's the policy that we have, and has become married to the public's opinion of the American left at the moment.

                      And I'm going to shift tactics to saying that the ACA rollout was badly mismanaged, but the ACA is still very important and needed, though single-payer would have been better.

                      Previously I'd been saying (maybe others here are in the same boat) that the technical problems will soon be fixed, and in the meantime, just call the 800 number and be golden. I hope that if anyone did so after discussions with me, they had a better experience than I've had with it.

                      -9.63, 0.00
                      "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

                      by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 08:13:17 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, and yes, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          samddobermann

          I do have pet aspirations to someday give the "great American novel" a shot... Though my attempts thus far are not anything to write home about. :-p

          I remain hopeful, and it's a nice way to relax from time to time.

          Let me blow your mind now: way back in the day, one of my undergrad degrees (I accumulated several) was in literature.

          But that was a million years ago.

          -9.63, 0.00
          "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

          by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 06:17:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  So you are a computer science sociologist??? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            middleagedhousewife, Tortmaster

            As tortmaster said, when making a diary that is founded on the reader taking you at face value you need to represent yourself as being fairly straight forward and honest.

            I don't get that vibe from you, I get the feeling you are more than happy exaggerating to 'improve' your story.  The fact you respond to my tongue and cheek post here but ignore my prior one that asks real questions of you furthers that belief.

            I don't know if you are honest or not, but you don't make me feel confident that I should believe you are.

            The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

            by fToRrEeEsSt on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 07:48:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't want to talk about myself any longer. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              samddobermann

              This is not about me, and I've answered too many questions about me—fed the fire.

              But if you doubt the demand for sociologists that are computer scientists, go look at the sociology and social science listings on the Chronicle or at one of the higher ed job search sites. You'll find faculty slots and some bigtime postdoc slots for people that hold Ph.D. degrees in social science and are also crack coders that can work on large data sets and sticky systems integration problems and have extensive development experience and a hard sciences background.

              This is where social research is. There is a lot of data out there. More than we've ever had before. People are worried about Google having it, or the NSA having it. But academics also want to use it—to know more about how society works.

              But you can't get at this data with a pencil, a notebook, and some survey questions. You just can't.

              -9.63, 0.00
              "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

              by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 08:21:17 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Well... Still... (4+ / 0-)

        ...that doesn't make them TEA PARTY lies.

      •  And so? (9+ / 0-)

        I spent a decade as a DBA/programmer, and am still available to consult on such issues, but I'm now an RN.

        There's nothing to say he can't be an IT consultant and a professional sociologist.  Most of the sciences require a lot of computer savvy these days.

      •  In fact, I am both. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, Mr Robert, samddobermann

        I don't want to be recognized immediately here, so I don't give out too many details. But look up:

        Sociology of Media
        Science & Technology Studies0
        Actor-Network Theory

        For subfields of the sociology/social sciences that deal with technology development.

        Think about how many academics do consulting work. Think about how important technology has become for society. Think about whether someone might study these things.

        Think about whether technology is influenced by, or may influence, the ways that we think about race, gender, class, the ways that institutions and organizations work, and so on.

        Think about the very concept of "social" media, now dominant in pop culture and technology, but also amongst the most studied things by social scientists in recent years.

        Don't be too quick to dismiss things when you haven't quite thought them through.

        -9.63, 0.00
        "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

        by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 05:26:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Also, I should add, (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, Mr Robert, samddobermann

          think about how many academics (including sociologists) are of the old guard, not particularly technology skilled.

          And yet, particularly in the scientific study of society, "big data" is a prime source of raw social research material these days—that sociologists would love to get their hands on and be able to use—if only they had the knowledge to:

          - Know the sources
          - Write the grants
          - Develop the code
          - Make sense of the data
          - Integrate with the systems

          Someone needs to bridge the gap—a sociology expert and a technology expert in one.

          Yes, it is possible to belong to both professional societies in academic sociology and professional societies in computing.

          -9.63, 0.00
          "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

          by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 05:36:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Good catch Tort (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tortmaster

        Nobodyatall, nice username.  The 2 catches, "My consulting work is precisely in web development"  and "I'm a professional sociologist in an academic setting" do not match; sorry. "Academic setting" and "consulting" seem like oxymorons.  Moreover, I do not know any scientist/sociologist who would first claim precisely their focus is web development over sociologist or scientist.  I agree with Tort, this poster provides no credibility to me at all.

        "If at first you don't succeed, keep on sucking 'til you suck seed."--Curly Howard

        by JackAshe on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 08:52:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It is what it is. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          samddobermann

          For better or for worse. I'd like to think that my identity has little to do with the content of the post. I'm certainly not ready to attach a name and a CV to my DailyKos participation, though anyone who's really determined could probably identify me based on past comments and posts.

          I see now that the paragraph in question has foreshortened other kinds of discussion that might have taken place, again, for better or for worse. Probably worse. My bad.

          And interesting to note that the discussion here on DailyKos this morning echoes the pitched battles that I and much more prominent others have been fighting in the stodgy world of academic sociology/social science for a decade. Cultural Studies has in many ways taken the lead on coming to terms with the information society and the very large and computationally-based social data sets in it, which is too bad, because sociology has centuries of previous empirical and theoretical work that more usefully inform and contextualize what is to be found.

          But that's for another post, on another site.

          -9.63, 0.00
          "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

          by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 09:04:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, a century and a half to two centuries (0+ / 0-)

            in any case. I suppose someone will jump on "centuries" in a moment.

            -9.63, 0.00
            "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

            by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 09:06:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  and you call yourself a sociologist? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tortmaster

            "For better or for worse. I'd like to think that my identity has little to do with the content of the post."
            Seriously??
            It has everything to do with your credibility too.

            "If at first you don't succeed, keep on sucking 'til you suck seed."--Curly Howard

            by JackAshe on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 09:46:57 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ah, a postmodernist? (0+ / 0-)

              Let me rephrase. I'd like to have thought that my identity had little to do with the accuracy of the post's content and its implications, or the particular way in which this audience, who presumably shares a number of important characteristics with me, approached the topic.

              Sure, it has everything to do with the fact that I'm trying to use the ACA rollout in the first place, or that I'm posting on a site like DailyKos, or the vernacular at issue, interpretation after the fact, authority, etc.

              Consider it a normative "like to think," rather than descriptive one, written for this particular context.

              -9.63, 0.00
              "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

              by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 10:14:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe you could tell me why support for (3+ / 0-)

      a more inclusive health care option for more Americans makes me a "Obama lover"?  Sorry, but I find the personalization of policy, whether it be by the right "Obummr's ACA is a plan to send us all to FEMA camps" or the left "If you think Snowden committed a crime in taking classified documents you only think it because you are a Obamafanbot" to be suspect.  Frankly I'm tired of the obsession with this President and the inability of so many to talk about policy without making it about love or hate of the President.  So you tell me why this diary has anything to do with love or hate of the President and maybe I or someone else will try to answer your question.

      "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

      by stellaluna on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 07:12:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Carlos, hardly lies; one man's (0+ / 0-)

      experience in hell! But he seems to have had everything go wrong that could.

      I agree with his deeply buried paragraph:

      As far as I can tell, it is, in fact a train wreck. Best to admit this up front and defend the principle behind the ACA and its eventual goals. Defending the rollout (not just of the website) looks to be a losing proposition; let's be sure that we acknowledge that it's a horrible rollout while still defending the absolute necessity of healthcare reform and the idea that the ACA itself is not the same thing as its rollout, and that it's needed policy, regardless of how badly things have gone at the beginning.
      my bold!

      Tis indeed a horrible rollout but the ultimate cause is R hypocrisy: They preach states rights and that states do things better than the
      Feds but they duck doing something in line with that.

      The law was designed to have each state run an exchange (marketplace), but Repuub dominated states ducked out — precisely to fuck things up. Those states with their own exchanges are ticking along just fine.

      Some of the wacky tales are based on not even trying and every complaint is magnified by the media. The saddest thing is that some could be helped a lot if they would only give it a try.

      I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

      by samddobermann on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 02:37:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Asdf... (8+ / 0-)
    It's time we admit this goes deeper than "Website Trouble"
    OK, it goes deeper than website trouble.

    Now back to explaining that the one federal website will be fixed without a doubt, and why ACA is far better than the previous 'system' which would have led the US to utter economic ruin.

    "Patients are not consumers" - Paul Krugman

    by assyrian64 on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 01:03:37 AM PST

    •  Agree. My point: (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, samddobermann, assyrian64

      There are things to fix beyond the website. The policy is okay (though single payer would have been far better). But the public-facing side of implementation is a disaster. Bad for the left, or what passes for it in the U.S.

      -9.63, 0.00
      "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

      by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 06:54:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  so you're concerned that the customer support (0+ / 0-)

        is not good?

        What are your suggestions to improve it?

        I was reading the healthcare.gov blog yesterday and saw some pretty frustrated people who don't seem to be getting their questions answered.  I too was concerned.

        What I did was use the chat function and asked if they had anybody from customer support monitoring the blog.  The person said he didn't think so.  So I asked if he could get a suggestion to the project team to do so.  He said he would.

        Now, I don't know if that will result in any changes but at least I took some positive action instead of just complaining how awful it is.

        •  Less about customer support, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mr Robert, samddobermann

          more about whether the phone and paper options suffer from the same kinds of problems that the website suffers from, as apart from customer interaction.

          It's as Jack Pine Savage says below—I'm worried that the "overall capability of the process" is low. That in fact it's quite hard to go through the federal exchange no matter the avenue, whether web, paper, or phone.

          That the ACA will be hobbled as a result, depending as it does, on enrollments. And that's a bad thing.

          Suggestions? I'd almost argue for a consulting firm to be hired to come in and work on process flow and organizational management across the board. For example, the paper process is ridiculous:

          1. Get end user to spend much more time than is necessary
          2. Sustain the labor costs to re-enter a subset of the data by hand in a fraught and selective way into a known borked system
          3. Be unsure of how the paper application's result will actually be delivered to the end user

          The rep wasn't unsure about the fact that the paper app would be linked "by SSN to your Healthcare.gov account," but appeared to have no inkling of what this meant practically, as a matter of actually getting to the result on the user experience side of things.

          This is what worries me—that in fact this is the case and there's no specification or resulting clarity of implementation for this beyond "linked to SSN in the system," even though this is highly ambiguous and the actual result may be clearly impacted by multiple dependencies and contingencies of system use and behavior.

          I asked about training and a "suggestion box" to talk about training issues, but if the problems go beyond training, no amount of training will fix them.

          -9.63, 0.00
          "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

          by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 08:38:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  did you ever fill out a paper application before? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            samddobermann

            I did.  It was much worse with trying to fill out your entire medical history.

            Whenever paper is involved someone has to enter the information into a system.  That was no different than sending it directly to the insurer and having them enter it.  It's now being handled upstream and the insurer is getting it electronically.  Sure that electronic submission was not working well at first but they've focused on that and it's working better now.

            From what I've read from people actually filling out the paper application, you get snail mail to pick your plan.

            Now I agree that the phone support people should know the process.  That is a training failure if they don't.  Then again I've been on the phone support end and that's not an easy job either.  I would hope they have a support manual with Q&A's to help them.

            I think they should have a link on the home page to submit user issues that is being monitored by support.  It does seem to me that their end user support needs to be improved.  It's not just about filling out the application and picking a plan.  

            They also need people knowledgable about technical issues to help people getting javascript errors and other browser issues.  They have a few things on their blog but the only way I've found the blog was to type "blog" into the search.  

            I think they are so overwhelmed with focus on getting the website fixed that the end user support has been ignored.  They need to do both.

  •  OK but your complaints are about the website so.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tommy Aces, Cedwyn, Tortmaster
  •  Its a large complicated system and has many... (6+ / 0-)

    issues, but i don't get your point.  Now that you have explained all that what are you trying to prove and why and how is it useful to anyone?

    I am not a fan of the ACA but I see no value in being a doomsayer unless there is something of value that can be derived from it.

    I just cant figure out why you took the time to write this diary?

    (nor why you would expect customer service reps to be very knowledgeable they usually aren't even for things that arent new nor as complex)

    The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 01:30:41 AM PST

    •  I guess my simplest point is: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dom Segundo, samddobermann

      Be wary of telling people "the ACA rollout isn't so bad; it's a minor set of fixes that will be done soon; just call the 800 number; it'll work for you."

      Instead, tell people:

      "Yes, the rollout sucks. It really sucks. Heads should probably roll. BUT I still support the ACA because we need it and it's far better policy than what it replaces. It'll take time to fix—maybe a lot of time—but it'll still be worth it in the end."

      -9.63, 0.00
      "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

      by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 08:46:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rhetorical Praxis (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fToRrEeEsSt, Tortmaster

        If this comment had been your lede, fleshed out with details from your personal experience with the website, the diary would have been a LOT more convincing than the one you wrote.

        Keep trying, better luck next time.

        •  Well that's the thing! DS I agree (0+ / 0-)

          with you. This author, and I have been looking at a lot of his posts, really should take a journalism class!

          My sage advice: Start with your Most important point , then perhaps restate it so that is will get through. Then flesh it out after an introductory phrase such as "this was my experience...."

          Then end with restating the major point.

          Don't bother to apologize for typos — and especially Don't start a diary with the apology!

          What nobody at all is saying IS worth saying: Don't defend the roll out; agree that it sucks. But spend your energy defending/promoting the underlying law.

          If you can get agreement on anything there is a much greater chance that people will listen to your major point.

          And you may elicit some disagreement with your damning of the roll out from people who have had a better experience — which is all good.

          I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

          by samddobermann on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 03:29:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Second paragraph: (0+ / 0-)

          "I think it's time we admit it and shift from defending the rollout or qualifying its failure by providing alternatives, and move in our engagements with critics toward defending the ACA as policy and a set of goals instead, conceding that the rollout has been badly botched—and not just on the website."

          Obviously it didn't take and needed to be rewritten.

          -9.63, 0.00
          "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

          by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 04:15:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  It never had a chance. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annecros

    And just adding warm bodies with no knowledge isn't helping. Sure, they are answering the phone quicker. That's about it.

    I wonder if they'll get a second chance. Do we have time to rebuild it?

    What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

    by Cpqemp on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 02:16:32 AM PST

  •  Has nobody ever bought insurance before? (3+ / 0-)

    This diarist writes as though the only way to buy insurance now is through the federal exchange website.

    That isn't the case.

    Maybe you'd be happy if Obama personally came to your house, held your hand, and helped you shop for insurance? Somehow, I doubt it.

    •  Some of us haven't, actually. (3+ / 0-)

      I have absolutely no idea how I would go about buying insurance other than through my state's ACA website. I assume it might be possible to go through the website of an insurer in my state, but I don't know who those are.

      It's not really a subject that comes up much when you're at the lower end of the income range at which the subsidies are targeted. You might as well be asking me if I've ever tried to buy a yacht.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 06:32:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd certainly like to know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      samddobermann

      whether there's a price differential between what's offered on the exchange and what's offered if I approach the insurer directly.

      Tiered pricing by funnel entry point, as correlated to related demographic bell curves that conventionally use each entry point, is not a new thing. It is absolutely the norm out there, in Capitalism[TM].

      Isn't the whole premise one of marketplace competition? Aren't we supposed to "shop around?"

      -9.63, 0.00
      "Liberty" is deaf, dumb, and useless without life itself.

      by nobody at all on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 07:09:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sneering hyperbole is what (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tortmaster

      riles up a lot of people who aren't on your wave length.

      It is quite possible that Obama himself would have a bad experience if he tried to do the sign up with the system as it is.

      Do you remember when on the Rollout of the new Iphone Steve Jobs could not get it to hook up to ATT while on the stage?

      I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

      by samddobermann on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 03:35:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think this is mostly bullshit. (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for your input, but I would EXPECT problems with this, as there were with Medicare. Medicare Part D, Romney care and any other complex and secure system requiring a large amount of information and an interactive site.

    I know not a thing about "code". I do know something about lower level government, insurance, etc...I have had lots of problems with PAPER insurance, tax and financial forms...this started poorly, and had to interface with the antique systems used by much of the Federal government. I also believe there was a certain amount of sabotage by those who hate the idea of "government health insurance", which of course this is NOT.

    Is Obamacare a great system? NO. Is it a vast and long overdue beginning at MAKING our health care mess INTO a system? YES, it is, and as such has a lot of enemies with a lot of money and no scruples or integrity.

    Anger management class really pissed me off.

    by old mark on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 04:31:17 AM PST

    •  No, I think this helps explain the low number of (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nobody at all, PhilK, FG, Mr Robert

      people that have completed the application process. The diarist's point that the web site had problems this severe plus the lack of focused support makes me very uneasy about the overall capability of the process.

      We need the system to be easy enough to engage the demographic that the ACA depends on: people who don't really need insurance. They won't put up with much in the way of obstacles.

      Beware of Bad Bhadsha - Zn'rx Proverb

      by Jack Pine Savage on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 05:56:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  But, old mark, diarist's point is (0+ / 0-)

      that the underlying law IS valuable so don't bother defending the roll out. Promote the law!

      The law, the ACA, called ObamaCare IS a step forward, a big wonderful first step.

      I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

      by samddobermann on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 03:39:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Too bad you hadn't watched the news or read (0+ / 0-)

    the internet.

    You would have known that the website was having issues.

    Why not wait until the Admin gets the website in order?

    What's your gwd dm rush?

    Notice: This Comment © 2013 ROGNM UID 2547

    by ROGNM on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 04:59:09 AM PST

  •  I don't care if this whole diary is a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chaoslillith, PhilK, Mr Robert

    fabrication. We all know that what has happened shouldn't have happened and it is a giant failure of management on the part of both the President and Kathleen Sebilius.  There is NO excuse for it and it may well take down Obama's biggest accomplishment.

  •  People it's not like they didn't have enough (0+ / 0-)

    time to test the site, the functionality, get their call center up and on top off all the knowledge they would need.

    Bad planning, makes government look bad, makes people not want to deal with it and will make something that should have been amazing be a laughingstock in the next election.

    Dems won't want to talk about it and Reps will have fun using it as another reason "big Government sucks"

     Obama should have been on top of all the testing for this since this was his baby or have Michelle or someone on top of the testing and deployment of this.

     I haven't even bothered to try it again since it first opened up. It referred me to my state health plan anyway so not sure what the point of it was.

     

    •  huh? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      samddobermann, Tortmaster
      I haven't even bothered to try it again since it first opened up. It referred me to my state health plan anyway so not sure what the point of it was.
      If you have a state exchange that's the one you're supposed to use to apply.  

      The federal one is for those who live in states that don't have exchanges.  That's where they apply.

  •  sounds like you hit every problem (3+ / 0-)

    but this is no longer true:

    (you can't reuse an email address to create a new account)
    This is from the healthcare.gov blog on Tues:
    If you’re having trouble creating an account, we have reset email addresses in our system to clear out any problems. So go ahead and try again using your email address but you may need to choose a new username.
    And take a look at pluto's diary from Tuesday.  It explains that because the db was virtual when people had trouble completing the process their info would get corrupted.  There are many good suggestions in that diary about how to proceed now.

    In a nutshell, because you had so many issues at various points, it would be best to clear your cache and cookies and start from scratch in creating an account.  Also, people apparently are having better luck using IE. I'd also suggest taking a look at this on the healthcare.gov blog:  3 tips to remember when you create a Marketplace account

    good luck.

  •  The narrative has been mishandled from day 1 (0+ / 0-)

    We end up with the Tea Party but the truth is we all as far as I know supported the public option.  We got the watered version, still the president needed to explain to people and his administration needed to be on top of the game with the ACA rollout because they KNEW there would be critical jump on for any little thing.  Most americans are not scholars and the nuance was too complex and this is not good.  GW Bush rolled out an entired misguided unethical war because the dumbed down were spoken to in a dumbed down way they understood and he NEVER apolgized for anything...  This administration needed to be the explainer of things.. If something is longer than this post than it is over most people's head.
    I do not see how the public option could have been politically worse for this president.  This has been a nightmare ..well intentioned or not.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 07:39:44 AM PST

  •  I am shocked that anyone could make a website (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CookyMonzta, Mr Robert

    that functions so poorly. And I am not talking specifically about the POTUS.

    It begs the question--was this website designed to fail?

    In the past I have seen government websites that worked just fine, redesigned to obfuscate data and access to data, after political hot potatoes hit the fan.

    Given the open admission of the GOP and other interests in making the Obama administration fail--could this be an extension of that?

    Because at some point it seems that incompetence couldn't account for this magnitude of failure.

    And I ask this as a question--should this be something to be investigated?

    Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

    by GreenMother on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 07:45:41 AM PST

  •  For the life of me, I cannot understand why (0+ / 0-)

    Sibelius has not yet been asked to walk the plank. She serves at the pleasure of the President and the Chicago geniuses he's surrounded himself with fail to realize the grievous harm being done to his agenda and legacy.

  •  What an idiot (0+ / 0-)

    Makes me wonder what this diary would have looked like if had time

  •  If true, how did you add to the confusion? (0+ / 0-)

    You opened an number of accounts using different email addresses.  

    You filled out a number of forms, mostly not finished.

    You called a number of people.

    Okay, the website is still being worked on and it probably would have been better for you to wait before even trying the system.

    Using different accounts probably added to the confusion of the phone reps who are new and you just added to their disfunction.

    I use SiriusXM to listen to progressive radio.  I use it in my car and on my computer.  Yesterday, it worked fine and then suddenly went off (computer).  When I tried to log in, I got an error message that my sign in and password were wrong.

    Long short...did chat with XM and was told it was a computer problem and they were working on it.  So, this morning I tried to get the radio again and again couldn't sign in.  Got on chat and got a lady who first said it was my browser, I told he I used two with same result.  She then said it was fixed, give it 5 min and log in.  Well, I gave it 10 mins and got the error message again.  Again, got on chat and got a man who said it was them, computer problem, apologized and said they were working on the problem.

    So, like it has been said by many, ACA has problems with website and I think when it is working well, things will be better and the people on the phone will then be more experienced to help the customers.

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