Sunday, August 31, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Health coverage glitches need NSA’s attention

By
From page A12 | October 20, 2013 |

The issue: Agency could make itself useful by fixing computer issues

To hear the critics tell it, only a handful of Americans have signed up — or tried to — for health coverage under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Advocates, including those in the administration, say it’s more than 20 million Americans, based on sampling techniques.

After two weeks of open enrollment, Californians started nearly 95,000 applications for health insurance through the state’s new exchange, Covered California.

REGARDLESS, three-fourths of those who try to sign up report problems, either in getting on the proper website or in navigating the site once they’ve reached it. And the problem is not just computer illiteracy.

One computer technician from San Antonio, Texas, finally gave up after repeated computer glitches kept him from signing up. George Spinner, a retired government worker in Virginia, told the Associated Press he could only get as far as creating an account and a password before the site blocked him, citing an “error.”

Of those who’ve used the system, only one in 10 succeeded in buying health insurance; another 25 percent who tried to buy coverage weren’t sure they succeeded, according to an Associated Press-GtK poll.

The administration assures us these glitches are being fixed on the federal HealthCare.gov website, intended to serve millions of expected applicants in 36 states. But notoriously impatient Americans have gotten over their earlier fear of computers and now expect the site to work like any other appliance.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., could look down the interstate to Fort Meade, Md., where 57,000 of the country’s top computer technicians hang out in the heavily guarded secrecy of the National Security Agency. Cleaning up a system so that it easily and flawlessly accepts health-care applications should be child’s play for its techs.

As it happens, the NSA is in search of a good deed to improve its standing with the American public after revelations that its surveillance programs were sweeping up all sorts of domestic electronic transmissions and emails that had been presumed private and off-limits to government snooping.

The solution to the delays and glitches in Obamacare is as simple as putting registration in the good hands of the NSA. Its people probably already know all your info anyway.

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