Fingers crossed and candles of hope burning, it looks like the Obamacare website is actually working from the front end without too many BSOD’s and Page Not Found error messages.
From midnight to noon Monday, HealthCare.gov had 375,000 visitors, and Bataille said the site was on pace to exceed the 800,000 figure by the end of the day. At 5:30 p.m., the Web site reported 750,000 visitors; shoppers no longer had to wait in line and error rates were low, according to a HealthCare.gov tweet.
With twice as much traffic as the site sees on a typical Monday, error rates and page wait times were higher than normal, Bataille said. The average page took two seconds to load, four times the administration’s target of half a second or less. Web pages had an error rate of 0.9 percent; the target error rate is 1 percent or lower.
Those who had to wait earlier in the day received a message saying the wait was necessary “so we can make sure there’s room for you to have a good experience on our site.” Shoppers had the option to leave their e-mail addresses and be notified when the site was available. When they returned, they were supposed to be moved to the front of the queue.
That does not mean that all is hunky-dory, but it’s better than before. (It also helps if you don’t have “experts” doing stupid things like trying to refresh a page while it is processing. Duh.) It also means that people are actually trying to sign up, which allays one of the fears that have been underlying the whole concept: that not enough people would get into the exchanges to make the costs balance out. Younger and healthier people paying premiums offset us old gaffers who will need the insurance more. And by the time the deadline arrives — December 23 — enough people should be enrolled to get a feel for how it’s going to go in the long term. Like I said, fingers crossed.
The semi-successful launch gives some people hope that it will shut off the hue and cry from the Republicans about repealing the law. Brian Beutler in Salon is optimistic that we’ve seen the last of that.
Now that it’s December, Republicans are facing accelerating enrollment across the country and a thinning calendar. Healthcare.gov is much improved and still improving, and the House is set to adjourn on December 13 for the remainder of the year. When it returns, the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve already successfully enrolled will actually be insured, and their ranks will be swelling.
I think Republican leaders will be extremely reluctant to hold votes to nakedly destroy the law, even if conservative hardliners try to use upcoming budget deadlines to replay the failed defund strategy.
Indeed, repeal is already an afterthought — a pose — in the Republican leadership’s actual playbook for attacking Obamacare in the weeks ahead. The manual boasts of past efforts to repeal or gut the law, but outlines a forward-looking strategy of politicking it at the margin.
In the months ahead Republicans will squeeze every drop of political juice they can out of every Obamacare failure and hardship they can unearth or spin into existence. But the goal won’t be repeal. It will be to channel the right’s Obamacare obsession into voter turnout in 2014 — at which point millions of people will be insured and the law will be unrepealable.
That would make a lot of sense if we were dealing with rational people. But of course we are not. These are the same people who are still sniffing around for the long-form birth certificate, who think Benghazi! was worse than Watergate — and that Nixon got a raw deal back then — and who think that a Vatican embassy upgrade in Rome is actually an attack on Catholics. So even if the healthcare website was working perfectly, if you got $1 million worth of insurance for $10 with no deductible and a massage every night as part of the plan, the Republicans would still be beating the drum for repeal.
As the site continues to improve, they’ll keep at it because they know that the better it works, the worse it is for them next November.