"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Esurance v. Osurance

The fiasco of the Obamacare website continues as we speak.   So I thought I'd take a gander at how easy it is to get a price quote for health insurance from a private website.

Hmmmm.... let's try this one, called eHealth:

Hey, looks inviting!   I particularly like the fresh-faced, healthy-looking babe.   But that's me.  Let's move on.   If you click on the stupid-proof "Find Plans Now" button (even libs can do it!), you get this page:

It took me all of about two minutes to type in the birthdays of my wife and kids.   And, presto!   Prices for a dozen health insurance plans available in my zip code!

Meanwhile, there's this report from Avik Roy in Forbes:

A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.
“Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” report Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.” Why was it delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.”

For the private sector, the end is customer service, so the means (website design) needs to be user-friendly.

For the government, the end is confiscating the wealth of the citizenry, so the means (website design) needs to be as user-unfriendly as possible.

It all makes sense now.

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