The various glitches and bugs (some might say features) that have popped up in the Obamacare rollout have been well enough documented that I shouldn’t have to run through them here. Most people, however, don’t understand the extent of the issues or just how long it could take to fix them. CEO Mark Bertolini of insurance company Aetna is probably one of the few people who does, as his company was one of those involved in the alpha testing of the website. On Monday, he appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box to give his assessment of the debacle. It is, to put it mildly, not reassuring:
The description Bertolini gives of the construction of the website should make it obvious that these marketplaces were a disaster waiting to happen. There are two things that particularly strike me as troubling from this interview. First of all, as he notes, the testing of this kind of application usually takes longer than its development, but everything Aetna did to test it was done “on the fly”. For Obama’s signature achievement, it does not appear that the government put much thought into the development of its most crucial part.
The second particularly troubling part for me was his assessment of the time it will take to fix these problems. You should be skeptical, to say the least, of anyone who promises that these are just a few minor problems that will take a month or two to fix. According to Bertolini, who has a subtantial amount of experience in these things, the timeframe we are looking at is about three years before we can sort the multitude of problems surrounding this website.
…Which will coincidentally be around the time Obama leaves office.