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HIX, A Disaster Foretold, Needs Time

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, October 15, 2013

It's Not Like Amazon
A hospital cannot and will not be expected to provide the same analysis that the federal data hub will, processing a prospective health plan member's income and producing expected tax credits. That will still require the federal and state HIX systems which have performed poorly so far.

A few pundits last week took issue with the way healthcare.gov requires all visitors to create accounts before they can receive such information, but I don't see any way around it. It's true that you can anonymously price-compare on Amazon and lots of other popular Web sites, but those sites do not require your tax information to calculate a price. By statute, healthcare.gov has to work this way.

So while everyone is throwing bricks at the Beltway Bandits who now scramble madly to fix and scale up the federal and state sites, let's not forget that the master architect of this information system was Congress, and the people who elected its members.

Technology is usually best designed by some megalomaniac who gets a good idea and pushes it through over the objections of investors and even the public because of some overarching vision of what it can be. Technology is not usually designed well by committees of any kind.

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3 comments on "HIX, A Disaster Foretold, Needs Time"


Frank Poggio (10/16/2013 at 7:41 PM)
Re: "don't expect them, or healthcare systems, or even Silicon Valley, to fix the health insurance exchange rollout, and neither should anyone else." Wow..so magnanimous! So if we should give them more time why won't DHSS give providers/vendors more time for Stage 2? And I still ask- why didn't DHSS put it's contractor HIX vendors thru the ONC Certification test process as they require of provider vendor systems. From my experience in guiding over forty vendor systems thru the ONC process there is no way any of the HIX systems would have passed. Drop down lists that don't work, repeated system outages, would have killed them in the first pass.

Tyco Brahe (10/16/2013 at 10:08 AM)
This moment-by-moment reporting is so useless. They will fix the portal and we will move forward. In a few years, we will look back at all this "disaster" talk and roll our eyes. When Medicare Part D was rolled out, it was a "disaster" of similar proportions, with seniors completely confused about the choices. Now, NO ONE even talks about it. This is a marathon, not a sprint. All the "disaster" talk is premature.

Jim Brunnemer (10/15/2013 at 4:53 PM)
It certainly looks like it will take time to get healthcare.gov fixed. I'd just note your comment on the timing to avoid the individual penalty is not the end of December......I believe they have said an individual would have to be signed up by mid-February to avoid the penalty as they need to have coverage in place effective before the end of March 2014 (so that really means 3/1/2014).