01 November 2013


On Facebook, my friend Miles Kurland says what a lot of people in my biz have been thinking:

As a web developer, people keep joking about Healthcare.gov to me, and I pity the folks who had to do the work on that site — given the data integration work with the large variety of providers and the overall complexity of the system.

But I think that criticisms of the site, and the ACA (Obamacare) often focus on a perceived failure of government to be able to do “big things”, and I think that's misguided.

Because the website is a synecdoche for the system as a whole, whose complexity derives from that very notion that private insurers — not government — should manage health insurance. But it's empirically been shown that Medicare is run more efficiently than the private insurance companies.

A complex, difficult to grasp ACA resulted in a complex, difficult to build website.

It would have made more sense as both policy and as technology for Healthcare.gov to have been a simple form with the instructions being: “Sign up for Medicare for All”.

I suppose that there's one good thing about this debacle: it will be an example that web developers can point to about how software tends to expose flaws in human systems.

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