The administration delivered a resounding judgment on its claim that Obamacare’s website problems were over by firing the prime contractor, CGI Federal. The Washington Post, reporting the contract cancellation, explains that ”as federal officials and contractors have been trying to fix various aspects of the Web site in the past few months, about half of the new software code the company has written has failed on the first try, according to internal federal information.”
They might have guessed the failure rate from the start. In an earlier article, the Washington Post noted that CGI Federal was “filled with executives from a company that mishandled at least 20 other government IT projects, including a flawed effort to automate retirement benefits for millions of federal workers, documents and interviews show.” Now make that 21.
Yet the malfunctions of the website mattered less than one would think. Even if it worked perfectly its intended audience is as perplexed by it as travelers from England at the sight of hieroglyphics. A survey by Enroll America showed that 68% of the uninsured never even logged on to the website. Terms like subsidies, deductibles, plan this or plan that were too much for some, a fact that was anticipated by the creation of a class of Navigators created and funded by Obamacare itself.
They knew that the target audience would be baffled. The Navigators were created the knowledge that insurance would have to be provided where basic literacy was no longer to be taken for granted. Recently a bank robber made the news when he handed a holdup note to a teller, only to have the teller unable to read it. In a recent, high profile murder trial the star witness proved unable to read her own declaration when questioned on the stand.
There were two main classes of the uninsured: Young people, who felt they didn’t need insurance, and poor people, who more often than not didn’t possess the basic skills – literacy, numeracy – to get the sort of job that would provide insurance programs for them.
Obamacare is going to be a strikeout for both groups.