Starting on Oct. 1, Americans were supposed to be able to visit websites to purchase subsidized health insurance much as they do now with Expedia and Orbitz for other products.
Instead, Americans attempting to sign up have encountered error messages and long wait times.
The New York Times has now detailed that there were early warning signs that the exchanges would not be ready in time.
According to the Times, "One person familiar with the system's development said that the project was now roughly 70 percent of the way toward operating properly, but that predictions varied on when the remaining 30 percent would be done. 'I've heard as little as two weeks or as much as a couple of months,' that person said. Others warned that the fixes themselves were creating new problems, and said that the full extent of the problems might not be known because so many consumers had been stymied at the fIRSt step in the application process."
The longer the problems persist, the more difficult it will be for the administration to meet its enrollment targets for the first year of the law, which was supposed to sign up about 7 million people.
More importantly, 40 percent of those signing up have to be young and healthy to offset the cost of covering older and sicker participants. But it's precisely the healthier Americans with low medical costs who are less likely to endure a difficult sign in process.
Additionally, the longer it takes for the exchanges to be fully functional, the more pressure there will be to delay the mandate requiring individuals to purchase insurance by Jan. 1 or face a penalty.
How can the IRS impose a penalty on individuals for not purchasing insurance, when the exchanges on which they were supposed to be able to obtain affordable health coverage aren't fully functional?