Obamacare's Website Debacles Migrate To Paper, Pen And Phone

Tyler Durden's picture

The rollout of Obamacare to date has been, as many predicted, the case study of everything that is wrong with a mandatory government-conceived, supervised and enforced program. Ignoring for a minute the daily embarrassment the Obama administration has to face with the well-documented failings of the HealthCare.gov website which on second glance should win Obama the Nobel Price for coding in Fortran (or  Cobol), and which seems set for a full-blown overhaul that would force a delay of the mandate whether Obama wants it or not, the several million "glitchy" lines of code have become the greatest gift the GOP could have asked for. A gift, which as the saying goes, keeps on giving. Because one of Obama's suggested loopholes has been to advise people who can't or won't sign up online, to do so using old-fashioned means: by paper, pen or phone. Unfortunately, that's where the rabbit hole just goes deeper, because as Politico reports, the glitches that started on line have rapidly shifted to the world of phone and mail, as virtually every pathway of enrolling into the enforced healthcare program is now hopelessly bottlenecked, if not entirely shut.

From Politico:

With the supposedly state-of-the-art $600 million HealthCare.gov portal malfunctioning, President Barack Obama is urging Americans to go ahead and try to get health coverage by mailing in a paper application, calling the helpline or seeking help from one of the trained “assisters.”


But the truth is those applications — on paper or by phone — have to get entered into the same lousy website that is causing the problems in the first place. And the people processing the paper and calls don’t have any cyber secret passage to duck around that. They too have to deal with all the frustrations of HealthCare.gov — full-time.

True. But at least Obamacare's failure means way more government jobs as the demand for people with the absolutely most basic set of rudimentary skills - being able to concurrently listen and/or read and type has soared. Which in an insolvent welfare state - with or without a ministry of happiness - is all one can ask for: more stimulus for everyone... especially if due to the same state's gross incompetence in doing one thing right.

As for Obamacare, the hits just keep on coming:

“I feel like we’re sort of back in the era of control-alt-delete where we’re trying to figure out the different tricks that facilitate people’s enrollment,” said Jennifer Ng’andu, director of health policy for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group that has been helping to publicize the Affordable Care Act.


The administration for the first time on Friday said it expected the health exchange website serving 36 states should be in good shape in about a month. “We’re confident by the end of November, HealthCare.gov will be smooth for a vast majority of users,” said Jeff Zients, the former White House aide and management expert brought into oversee the repair drive.


But for now, with HealthCare.gov crippled by design flaws and a morass of messy code, the president and health officials have been using a variety of posts and announcements to urge people to try low-tech ways of enrolling. Basically they are saying while the front door is stuck, try the side.

This is where it gets really funny:

Of course, reading an 800 number on national TV — as the president did in the Rose Garden the other day — created a flood of callers who couldn’t get through. That led to another wave of frustration and Obamacare punch lines. But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tweeted on Thursday that HHS bulked up the call center to include more than 10,000 trained representatives.


POLITICO reporters who got recorded announcements earlier in the week — sometimes directing them to try HealthCare.gov — can now get through to the call center. Once they connect, staffers like “Justin” try to get people’s information into the online system.


But “Justin” doesn’t have a fast track. Asked if the website works better for him than the general public, he responded: “No.”


“The site does not work for us either,” he said.

Raucous laughter aside, there really are no words to describe the gross incompetence that has been revealed, even if many knew long ago that when the government really sets its mind to it, it can screw something up better than the entire private sector possibly ever could.

And since there are no words, back to the raucous laughter:

Sometime, the call center staff can get in and process the application while the caller waits. If not, the staff can take the information, put it in a PDF and finish later. Even then, it’s just the application — once that’s processed, the customer still has to call back or get online to select the specific health plan they want and enroll.


People do not have to stay on hold indefinitely — a good thing because Sebelius said earlier in the week that the center has handled about 1.6 million calls.


It’s similar in the world of paper applications.

Even before the tech problems, the government had a private contractor, Serco, to handle paper applications, which were expected to come primarily from less Web-savvy people. On Thursday, the company’s program director John Lau told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that it had completed between 3,000 and 4,000 applications.


Lau said the company does have the capacity to handle more than what’s expected — a paper surge. But he also said the customer’s data has to be entered into the Web portal and hinted there could be problems if volume dramatically increases. Lau didn’t say how long that takes, but a customer service representative said it would take about three weeks to complete the enrollment process.


“Our challenges have included coping with the performance of the portal as that is our means of entering data just as it is for the consumer,” Lau said, referring to HealthCare.gov. “With the relatively low volumes of applications we have received thus far, this has not been a problem for us.”


But Serco will be flooded with paper applications if the website glitches persist, predicted John Gorman, founder of the Gorman Health Group, which has advised some of the insurance exchanges. “Serco is going to be swimming in paper within the next two to three weeks,” he said.

Sounds like a hint for the US Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness to enforce the directive that swimming in paper equates to at least 8 out of 10 hedons on the happiness scale. Otherwise, some subversive, terrorist tea-party elements may float the wild suggestion that epic government failure may not equate to joy.

Finally, and it goes without saying, at this point there is no way Obamacare's initial enrollment target of 7 million Americans over the next 5 months ca realistically be achieved.

Health industry experts have serious doubts about whether these quaint tools could get the Obama administration a good way toward its first-year enrollment target of 7 million Americans in the exchanges by the end of March.


There’s no way a call center can handle 7 million enrollees between now and March,” said Dan Schuyler, director of exchange technology for Leavitt Partners.


The National Council of La Raza, Ng’andu’s group, has been working with navigators and assisters, more of whom are getting certified every day to help people sign up. They’re getting the clear message from the administration — only use paper applications if nothing else works.


“We’ve been strongly urged to enroll people online and the paper application is the last resort,” said Michele Cullen, manager of the navigator program for the Genesis Health System in Illinois and Iowa.



The approaching Dec.15 deadline to get coverage starting Jan. 1, combined with the paper and call center challenges, have left advocates trying to enroll people any way they can while keeping their fingers crossed that HealthCare.gov will improve.


“At this point, we’re three weeks into enrollment,” Ng’andu said. “We’re not going to wait. … From our perspective, we need to get individuals informed. We need to get them shopping.”

Shopping... with a gun to their head. But stepping back from the glitchy trees and looking at the forest of errors, one wonders how long before Obama instructs the GOP to shut down the government once more with the same demand as last time: delay Obamacare.

One wonders if Obama's agreeing to all GOP demands would be measured in hours or in minutes this time around. Then again, one doesn't - after all it's nothing but more political theater.

As for the ordinary American man or woman, well they too have a recourse. Just dial: 1-800-F U-CKYO

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B2u's picture

I asked if I needed to sign up for health care.  I was told 800-FUCKYOu.

Millivanilli's picture

The only people who are rushing to sign up need 10s of thousands of dollars of medical care.  Everyone else is saying, fuck obamacare.   The end result will undoubtedly be failure on a massive scale.

Bad Attitude's picture

It is going to get even worse. Assuming people are able to successfully sign up for Obamacare, will they be able to find a doctor who takes their Obamacare insurance? Will doctors who refuse to take Obamacare insured patients be labeled terrorists and traitors by the regime?

Doctors are certainly considering alternatives to their current medical practices. This past week, I was visiting my cardiologist. I started asking questions about the medications I take and the suitability of substitutes in light of the damage Obamacare is expected to cause to the practice of medicine. I said I might not be able to afford my medications if I have to buy airline tickets to Costa Rica to see him. He simply replied "Ireland."

Forward (over the cliff)!

knukles's picture

The website is but a symptom of the problems.

BaBaBouy's picture

Funny EH...

The NSA Seems To Work Absolutely FLAWLESSLY.

knukles's picture

So she said that there were 1.6 million people who called in last week?
But but but, official policy is that no numbers are to be released, so are we to assume that this number is not true?

Betcha most of those 1.6 million calls concluded in mumbling, cursing, throwing shit and hanging up in absolute disgust and anger.

So we have TBTF banks buying the TBTF government, regulating the TBTF banks for the TBTF governments benefit.  Or some such shit.

Gordian Knot of Tyranny



BaBaBouy's picture

""The only people who are rushing to sign up need 10s of thousands of dollars of medical care. ""

The OMAMBA Care People Constantly Say That All Healthy Young People Must Sign Up For The System To Work!

Why The Fuck Should Healthy Young People Spend Thousands A Year For Healthcare That They Most Probably Will Not Need??????????

Young People Should Be Saving This Money Or Putting It Down On A House, Paying Down DEBT  Etc...

macholatte's picture


Speaking of New Normal……. And the “cost” of Obamacare……

Toni Townes-Whitley, Princeton class of ’85, is senior vice president at CGI Federal, which earned the no-bid contract to build the $678 million Obamacare enrollment website at Healthcare.gov.

Michelle Obama’s Princeton classmate is executive at company that built Obamacare website



Lawmakers: Sebelius failed at government website projects prior to serving in Obama administration



johnQpublic's picture

i have an extra laptop that i'm using to tie up bandwidth at .gov ACA website

wont you all join me?

mickeyman's picture

It was supposed to be written in binary. But due to budgetary constraints they only used zeroes.

lakecity55's picture

No, it's because using "1s" would be raysist!

MontgomeryScott's picture

Here's a take on your statement.

...said Jennifer Ng’andu, director of health policy for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group that has been helping to publicize the Affordable Care Act.

 Jennifer Ng'andu??? Hispanic? LA RAZA?

Sounds like a caucasian first name and a weird Negro African last name to me.

I don't mean to sound 'RAYSISS', but what is a mulatto woman who is most likely NOT 'hispanic' doing in charge of a 'Hispanic Advocasy Group' promoting 'OBAMACARE'?

HMMM. 'Barry Soetoro'. Now THERE's a true black man...

DaddyO's picture

It was written by the same people who wrote the Common Core curriculum...

6+7=11, right?

Just so you can explain how you arrived at your conclusion.


TBT or not TBT's picture

No bid contract would be top of the fold in NYT articles if this were a pro American govt program, instead of a fascist one.

TBT or not TBT's picture

"No bid contract" would be top of the fold in NYT articles if this were a pro American govt program gone fubar, instead of a fascist one.

InvalidID's picture


 Young people should be spending that money to pay down the mountians of student loan debt they're holding....

divide_by_zero's picture

No releasing of real numbers, however numbers pulled out of one's ass can still be released

A Nanny Moose's picture

HHS bulked up the call center to include more than 10,000 trained representatives.

From India

ElvisDog's picture

will they be able to find a doctor who takes their Obamacare insurance?

And that, my friend, is where the wheels finally and ultimately fall off Obamacare. Denninger wrote this morning that the doctors who are willing to take Obamacare insurance are also the doctors who take Medicaid. There will be a flood of new free-shit-army folks entering into Medicaid. So, you may get your shiny, new Obamacare insurance but you may also have to wait 6 months to get a doctor's appointment.

RichardP's picture

will they be able to find a doctor who takes their Obamacare insurance?


How does one tell which is Obamacare Insurance and which is not?  Obamacare is not an insurance plan.  Those buying insurance through the exchange, even if it is subsidized, are actually buying insurance from a health insurance company.  Those purchasing healthcare insurance through the exchange will get an insurance card with the healthcare insurance company logo on it, just like those who purchase healthcare insurance outside of the exchange will have.

NuckingFuts's picture


There is no Obamacare insurance.  I have been offered a fair policy from a good company this week over the phone.  The fucking problem is that I need to enroll through the fucking marketplace.  If/when I purchase this policy it will say nothing about Obamacare anywhere.  THE PLANS ARE PRUCHASED PRIVATELY.  except for medicare/medicaid

Will To Live's picture

Seriously. Do you know any MDs that are going to go along with this system? What does the AMA say? Crickets...

scrappy's picture

EPIC failure, the biggest I have ever seen.

The ironic thing that most of the people who will be calling them will be their own followers, and boy are they gonna learn something, eh?  ;-)

By far, the rest of the callers will be fake "conservatives" by the way.

Watch what they DO, NOT WHAT THEY SAY.


Chuck Walla's picture

Only government can make the US Mail faster than the internet,

RSloane's picture

Not really, no. This is not a surpise, its how this gov't runs.

knukles's picture

A couple of us ZH'ers (others do read the site, gosh!) were talking about this very thing today and not a single one of us (we're all in the codger realm of experience, BTW) remember any time previous that was this corrupt and engaged in ever so openly and shamelessly.

Rub our noses it it, please, sir.

The New Normal's Modern Dispensation of Indulgences


RSloane's picture

Its all shamelessly done in the open, such as the threatnened  attack on Syria, or running guns to drug lords in Mexico, or the expansion of IRS powers, or justifying the NSA and expanding it, or using a no bid contractor to build the Obamacare website.. and the list goes on and on. With so much of the world watching, our only hope is that other leaders intervene, as they have done and will do from South America to Germany.

Trimmed Hedge's picture

Well, he did promise transparency...

TBT or not TBT's picture

They didn't hide being Chicago machine politicians. The regime is lousy wih them. Jarret has had that Obama guy fronting this thing for five years and running.

ebworthen's picture

You don't think that is why they chose this Canadian company to get the juicy $93.7 million dollar contract, do you?

John McAfee said on Coast to Coast that the company (CGI) failed at Canadian initiatives and was accused of intentionally overcharging.  Brietbart has a story on it: 


The whole broadcast with McAfee on Coast to Coast here:


McAfee was quite cogent.

TeamDepends's picture

Wow Michelle Obama, you really do put the lug in slug:


That's right fat-cat Dumpocrats, write the biggest check you can!  Make it hurt!

lakecity55's picture

So, the Beard and Bozo got to split what, 10% of 600 million?

I wonder what offshore banks it is in.

papaswamp's picture

Same company is administering the Sandy relief too. Canadian based at that eh?



Running On Bingo Fuel's picture

Astute Cipher.

Bottom line is easy on this one. How many fucking paying customers do you have?!! And how many leaches?

Simple arithmetic.

And for those who want a way out. The IRS cannot lien or otherwise force you to pay. They can only collect against your surplus account meaning if you carelessly overpay them, they will snatch the monies from your surplus.

The solution for W2'd peoples is to max out your deductions so as to never create a surplus of payments to the fuckers. 1099'ers know what to do so I don't need to explain.

Then never pay for the Obamacare. A big FUCK YOU for violating my constitutional rights!! A part of my new American Dream. h/t Rush.

(sidenote) be sure to structure your estate using trust law.

natty light's picture

Anagram generator result:


RSloane's picture

According to our glorious MSM this will just be further proof of how amazingly successful Obamacare is. The more people who can't create a log in name and can't fill out the forms shows how desperately the 'people' needed it.

icanhasbailout's picture

And now the general public gets a first-hand look of what doing business in America, thus having to deal with the government, has been like these past two decades.

buzzsaw99's picture

Boehner was right. Don't think that's ever happened before. That's some funny shit right there.

Kantbelieveit's picture

The hatred of all things governmental has become a kind of autoimmune disease in America, in which the body politic attacks its own vital organs. ZH, a site run by clever and well-educated people, seems to fan the flames of anti-government hysteria to jack up traffic so that we can all see more ads.That's the beauty of the marketplace!

Please bear in mind that national government health services are the rule, not the exception, in the most advanced countries of the world. It is only in America that we believe that the best medical care for the poor is provided in emergency wards. It is obviously cheaper to buy medicine in bulk and to have a single payer entity with dramatically less paperwork that a few hundred private insurers. The American health care troglodytes will be dragged, kicking and screaming, into a single-payer system, but it will take two more decades to overcome the disease of demonization of the government.

America's biggest health care problem is one of mental health. About a quarter of the population has been encouraged to develop an insane hatred of the Federal Government. This has been done by private sector interests who wish to impede government regulation of their industries. They don't give a flying flip for the public interest, and they are quite pleased by the results their precisely applied propaganda has achieved.

El Vaquero's picture

Pssst!  Those "civilized" countries are going to lose their government provided health care.  They cannot afford it.  They're going broke. 


Are you really so stupid as to believe that a government who lied to get us into Iraq, spies on us all, kicks in doors and shoots dogs and people because somebody wants to smoke weed, and cannot balance its own checkbook is to be trusted?  Seriously?  FYI, the private sector and the government are in cahoots.  Unless you want to provide proof that large corporations don't write the regulations for their own industries.

Kantbelieveit's picture

Since single payer health care is cheaper than the crazy-quilt of private insurance, how is it that other countries "cannot afford it?" The American yahoo hatred of national health care is just a kind of racist hostility toware the poor, whom they mistakenly believe are mostly dark-skinned. They deeply desire that poor children grow up sick and disadvantaged, and they support the private insurance health care system because it achieves that outcome.

El Vaquero's picture

Because those countries' governments are running high budget deficits.  That's why they cannot afford it.  They are going to experience a reversion to the mean one day, and a lot of services are going to go away. 


But now that you pulled the race card, I'm starting to believe that you aren't just some red team/blue team sheep, but instead, you might just be a troll. 

lakecity55's picture

EV, that is one of their keywords.

They go to "race" real quick.

Apparently, they forget idiots are found in every race.

And, what is Zero, anyway?

If we presume his Kenyan background is for real, he is only about 20% "black." The Luo Tribe was heavily interbred with Arab slave traders, so Zero's claim to being black is only due to the fact his skin pigment is darker than average europeans. He is, in fact, a mongrel, just as many of us Americans are. I have never considered him "black," as in the American Negro.