In a strange case of truth being stranger than fiction it now appears that a skit on Saturday Night Live was accurate in its portrayal of the HealthCare.gov website.
In the skit, a woman portraying Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was telling people about the benefits of the site. She said the site was only able to handle six people at a time. It now turns out that number turned out to be the exact number of people who signed up for Obamacare on the first day, making their comedy routine somewhat prophetic.
Ever since the botched rollout of the Obamacare health care website, data regarding the number of enrollments from the federal government has been like pulling hen’s teeth; now it seems evident why that has been so. The exchange only signed up six people on its first day of operation and the numbers in the following days are not much better.
Prior to the rollout on October 1, President Obama insisted everything was on track and the American people were told the website was ready to go, despite claims by experts that this was not true.
Once the website became operational it was plagued by a series of glitches that continue to this day. While much of the news has been focused on the problems with the website itself, one piece of information that is been lacking has been the actual number of people taking advantage of the site to purchase healthcare insurance, which was the primary purpose of the site.
The Obama administration has consistently said they did not have the numbers available to present to Congress or the public. The statement came as a shock to those in the computer industry because being able to track information such as the number of clicks on your page, as well as where a person went to on the site is routine in almost all webpages including those by the smallest companies and even individual sites.
While testifying before Congress earlier this week, Sebelius was asked if she would provide Congress with the data they currently had on the number of enrollees in the health care exchanges. Sebelius issued a flat “no,” saying she did not feel the numbers they had were reliable and did not want to release any data until it was confirmed.
Sebelius was even asked if she would be willing to provide the number of people enrolled using the phone system since that information should be fairly easy to obtain and get accurate numbers on. She likewise refused, citing issues with the website.
It now appears why the government has been reluctant to release the information. When the website rolled out the government claimed that millions of people access the site showing that they wanted to purchase healthcare. In fact the government used this claim is justification for why the website crashed saying it was due to so many users wanting to purchase health insurance.
However, it now turns out that on the first day of operation only six people actually enrolled in Obamacare. The shocking information comes from the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services which turned over the information in response to a document request from House Oversight Committee. The documents were first obtained by CBS news
The numbers did jump up sharply from the initial six over the next couple of days. By Tuesday, the second day of operation 100 people that signed up while on Wednesday the total count of enrollees for the entire country was 248. While the numbers are significant jump from the first day, they fall far short of the numbers needed to obtain the president’s goal of 7 million enrolled by March of 2014. In order to meet the president’s goal the site would need to sign up 39,000 people per day, far short of the numbers thus far.
The administration has attempted to say the numbers may not be accurate because it doesn’t take into effect people that may have used different ways to enroll such as submitting a paper request through the mail.