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Uncovered California

Monday March 3rd, 2014   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 6:15am PST   •  

CoveredCalifornia_200We recently noted massive dysfunction at Covered California, the state subsidiary of Obamacare, which, among other things, wasted $1.3 million on an absurd promotional video. But as Emily Bazar of the CHCF Center for Health Reporting notes, these are hardly the only problems.

She writes that California paid Accenture $359 million to set up a “consumer-friendly web portal” that would “simplify and streamline” the application process under Obamacare. Says Bazar, “there must be another definition of ‘consumer friendly’ I’m not familiar with.”

The enrollment deadline is looming but “Californians are still struggling with the website, including some of its basic functions.” And the website does not allow anybody to reset their password. “Instead you have to call the jammed customer service number and wait on hold until someone can help.” As a rule, they are unable to help. The IT people “take hours, days or weeks” to resolve the issue, and this is not simple a tech glitch. Says Bazar, who does not work for Fox News, “you can’t sign up for a health plan online without being signed into your account.”

San Francisco web engineer Sean Knox, 33, knew what plan he wanted and even had the money for it. But he found himself “hamstrung by the most basic process on any website that has been rolled out in the last 15 years.” Says Bazar, “That, my fellow Californians, is what $359 million buys you.”

Given that kind of waste and dysfunction, nobody has grounds to believe any glowing report from Covered California. Californians would do well to get out of there altogether, which is what Sean Knox finally did. Actually, Californians would be better off avoiding the site altogether, but nobody should think that Covered California exhausts the state’s problems with government waste.

Last year, as the Los Angeles Times observed, “California’s computer problems, which have already cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, have mounted as state officials cut short work on a $208-million DMV technology overhaul that is only half done.”

Remember, this is supposed to be a high-tech state.

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March 2014