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October 21, 2013

Obamacare Enrollment Plan B - Phoning It In [Andy]

The Washington Examiner's Phillip Klein called (800) F1UCKYO (no, seriously) and it went about like you'd expect.

As the program’s central website was under repair, Obama encouraged Americans seeking insurance to sign up the old-fashioned way by calling 1-800-318-2596.

But when I tried calling the number and followed the prompts in what I deemed the most logical manner, I got referred back to the website Healthcare.gov and its live web chat feature.

It gets worse. If the person on the other end of the live web chat tries to assist in filling out a live application, they have to use the same broken Healthcare.gov site that sent you to the phone in the first place.

I read somewhere that there's also an option for them to take your information and mail you a paper form, but that it takes several weeks to arrive and obviously the comparison shopping part of the Internet-based system isn't going to work too well.

What strikes me about this, having worked in a healthcare business with significant online and call center operations in the past, is that you don't just take an action that dials up the call center volumes on a whim. There's no possible way they were staffed for this alternative, given the rose-colored glasses they've been looking at the whole project through to date, and there's sure to be a lot more of this:

Buh, bye.

And as far as the "tech surge" idea of bringing tech experts in to fix this disaster, Geraghty had this blurb in the Morning Jolt, and it's absolutely true:

NR cruiser Bruce Webster, professional analyst of big organizations and how they tackle complicated projects, writes in again:

When I saw this

The Obama administration Sunday said it’s called on “the best and brightest” tech experts from both government and the private sector to help fix the troubled website at the root of the Obamacare enrollment problems.

…I immediately thought of this:

“Adding manpower to a late project makes it later.” — Brooks’s Law (first coined in The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., back in 1975…

The two basic ideas behind Brooks’s Law are (1) the new people have to come up to speed on the project, and (2) you’ve just added an exponential number of new possible communication channels — from (N^(2)-N)/2 to ((N+M)^(2)-(N+M)/2, where ‘M’ is the number of new people added.

Translation: the problems are about to get worse, not better.

Link Added [ace]: I added the link to the Morning Jolt subscription page, which many of you already subscribe to, but if you don't, here's your chance.

One catch: It costs zero dollars.

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posted by Guest Blogger at 02:00 PM

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