Steeped in the best irony sauce ever, the target of the shutdown is open for business.
HHS officials walked reporters through the process Monday; a video demonstration is available here. The experience felt similar to filing one’s taxes on TurboTax and could be completed within an hour. Consumers need basic information (household size, expected 2014 income). After entering some initial information, they’ll find out what financial help is available to them and what their health plan options are.
Though there still might be a learning curve — health insurance is inevitably complicated — administration officials stressed that the shopping experience is the result of input from hundreds of average Americans. “Nothing like this has ever existed before,” [HHS Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius said.
The Obama administration, for its part, isn’t setting high expectations for the launch date. At a briefing with reporters last week, senior administration officials showed off a line graph of how enrollment went in Massachusetts when it implemented its 2006 health care reform law.
The bottom line? Most people signed up at the last minute. Under Obamacare, the last minute would be Dec. 15. That’s the last day that people can sign up for coverage and still have it start on Jan. 1, 2014.
As I texted to my brother last night, I wonder if there’s an army of GOP hackers just waiting to launch a DDOS attack on the site and shut it down via cyberterror. He reminded me that most of the sign-up sites are run by the states — the ones that actually went along with the healthcare law and set up the exchanges — and that people in states that didn’t — like Florida — would use the federal site. He also noted that most of the best computer hackers are liberals who support the law; those who still live with their folks get insurance thanks to Obamacare.