shuts down overnight as devs work to meet Dec. 1 deadline

The self-imposed deadline to fix – the federal Obamacare website – is this weekend. The fact that small businesses won't be using the site for another year is a sign of the difficulties to manage the traffic.

The Obamacare website had trouble handling 2,000 simultaneous users. The Obama Administration says the fix will boost that to least 50,000 but insiders handling the fix fear the online crowds could number 250,000.

On Tuesday, in Glendale, President Obama expressed frustration with the federal exchanges but praised Covered California's website. “And yet here in Southern California and across the state, there are thousands of people every single day who are getting healthcare for the first time.”

Covered California is certainly faring better than the government run exchanges, but who are those 79,000 who have signed up, and what does it mean for the rest of us?

“One-third of them are getting federal subsidies,” says Dr. Ted Mazer of the County Medical Society, “and a third of them are Medicaid patients, so you're looking at two-thirds at some kind of taxpayer payment, and one-third are self funded.”

“Can really one-third of the population be paying for two-thirds of the population for Healthcare? That's sort of what we're looking at right now.”

If that trend continues it will drive up premiums in the private market, and those forced in to the government exchanges are finding premiums have doubled, or tripled.

Sticker shock is in everybody's future unless you're a low income earner.

“The problem is the real cost will come when you start seeing your Doctor next year,” says Mazer, “and you have higher deductibles than you used to have, you have higher out of pocket expenses than you used to have for your co-payments.”

Access to doctors is another major problem. The health plans in the exchanges have narrowed the number of doctors in those plans meaning fewer doctors who will be handling more patients.

Dr. Mazer: “We're losing the right for the patient to choose who they want to do see. We're losing the right to see somebody timely because we're being pushed into narrower and narrower hourglasses to get to the access you want.”

The website is a portal to enrollment but Covered California will soon shift its focus to call centers and enrollment counselors. We'll see how that works out.


Steve Bosh

Categories: KUSI