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These 2 State Health Exchanges Are in Worse Shape Than the Obamacare Website

If you were to start pointing fingers and assigning blame for who may be at fault for the lackluster opening of Obamacare's federally run health exchange,, you'd quickly run out of fingers.

The first five weeks and change haven't been very memorable for many Americans eager to sign up for Obamacare and get health insurance. According to internal memos released at the end of October, a meager six people out of the 4.7 million that visited the website on the first day from a combined 36 states managed to fully sign up and enroll for health insurance. By day two, the combined successful enrollments had risen to only 248.

In short, the scope of the problems, ranging from server overloads to poorly constructed IT architecture and source code, is still somewhat unknown, and it's casting doubt on whether Obamacare can be successful if the Obama administration can't even get off the ground.

State-run exchanges outperform -- except for these two
Statistically speaking, most state-run exchanges are running circles around based on what limited enrollment data we have thus far. According to Politico, the early stage Obamacare enrollment champions have been New York, Kentucky, and Washington state, which, despite minor problems, have delivered the bulk of state-run health insurance enrollment. New York and Washington shouldn't come as a big surprise here, given that both states were strongly in favor of Obamacare's approval, but it should be noted that Kentucky has been a positive surprise so far and could portend strong enrollment for other Ohio River Valley and Southern states -- should get up and running, that is.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the technical disaster that is Oregon and Vermont, the two state-run exchanges that are far and away in worse shape than any other health exchange in the United States. Hawaii had been a big question mark as well, but after a two-week delay in opening its site for enrollment, and enduring a crash immediately upon going live, Hawaii has been running relatively glitch-free ever since.

If a tree falls in a forest ...
For Oregon, the original plan was to have Cover Oregon, the state's health exchange, up and running by Nov. 1. As you can obviously tell, that deadline has come and gone, and there's concern that Oregon may not even have its website up and running by the Dec. 15 enrollment cutoff to ensure health coverage by Jan. 1.


According to The Oregonian, some 150,000 people are set to have their health insurance policies cancelled on Jan. 1 as insurers phase out policies that no longer meet the beefier minimum benefit requirements as set forth by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This puts the state and its residents, which have for the most part been ardent supporters of Obamacare, in quite the pickle.

Now here's the really interesting part: The contractor assigned to build Cover Oregon that's been working around the clock trying to fix its problems is none other than Oracle (NYSE: ORCL  ) . Keep in mind that the Department of Health and Human Services has already turned to Oracle as one of the companies it's highlighted in its so-called "tech surge" to help diagnose and fix Yet Oracle is having all sorts of issues figuring out how to repair Cover Oregon's numerous technical issues. With Oracle's cloud-based revenue growth already weaker than many of its middleware peers, it can ill afford any more bad publicity.

In response to these ongoing problems Oregon has announced plans to hire 400 paper processors to handle what are expected to be an influx of paper applications over the coming weeks in lieu of the Dec. 15 cutoff period to receive coverage by Jan. 1. This is certainly a state worth keeping your eyes on as it's expected to play a large role in getting enrollment figures to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' target of 7 million new enrollees.

The Obamacare disaster du jour
Despite being the second-least populated state in the country, Vermont's state-run health exchange, Vermont Health Connect, is without question the least functional of all.

No one expected Vermont's health exchange to be operational on time, but many figured it wouldn't have any problems meeting the already lenient Jan. 1 target to open for business. However, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin last week was forced to yet again delay the opening of its state-run health exchange for at least another three months. With that in mind, Shumlin also announced that Vermont residents would be allowed to stay on their current health plans through at least March 31.

As may come as no surprise, the lead contractor behind the bungled Vermont health exchange is none other than CGI Group (NYSE: GIB  ) , the same lead architect that's taking fire for its leading role in constructing the relatively non-function federal website, If the hits just keep on coming for CGI Group, it could very well begin to lose future contracts, which would almost certainly affect its top and bottom lines in a bad way.

If there is a bright spot here, it's that on a percentage basis Vermont had the second-lowest uninsured rate in the country next to Massachusetts before the start of Obamacare, so the monumental health exchange disaster may not wind up being so catastrophic for the state after all.

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Read/Post Comments (13) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On November 09, 2013, at 6:35 PM, Georgeyo wrote:

    You should also mention California. I tried entering my wife's information so that she could get insurance. I entered the information about her and then entered the information about me, including my Social Security number. When I clicked on "continue", a message read that I must input a unique SS number. I entered it again and again and again and kept getting the same message. I e-mailed the folks have heard nothing as of yet. Meanwhile, my wife has not been able to get an account. Can't anybody do anything right anymore??

  • Report this Comment On November 09, 2013, at 7:07 PM, kenxq5471 wrote:

    I do believe that the success of Kentucky is overstated with regard to Obamacare. The vast majority of those signing up in Kentucky are signing up for Medicaid. However, the website is obviously working well.

  • Report this Comment On November 09, 2013, at 7:11 PM, doco177 wrote:

    Fathom The Hypocrisy Of A Government That Requires Every Citizen To Prove They Are Insured....But Not Everyone Must Prove They Are A Citizen.

    And Now, Any Of Those Who Refuse, Or Are Unable To Prove They Are Citizens Will Receive FREE Insurance Paid For By Those Who Are Forced To Buy Insurance Because They Are Citizens.

    Google "Obamacare Flowchart" at Intellectual Takeout to see a visualization of the convoluted, corrupt mess this thing really is

    Congress,Muslims, Amish, Native Americans and several other groups are exempt from mandate and penalties under ACA that the rest of us have to pay.

    The govt becoming more involved in health care is the reason the costs have increased. So Govt creates a crisis, then provides a solution that comes at the expense of liberty and freedom, costs trillions, and by most accounts won't solve the problem but in fact make it far worse.Corruption, incompetence, disregard of the Constitution, and lying are integral to the way that this country is being run.

    Three years ago, Obama, Democrats, and his media lied to us about cutting the cost of health care, being able to keep our insurance, and not taxing the middle class. Today, those lies and what ACA is and will do to the working and middle class are the biggest untold story in America.

    REFUSE and Repeal ACA...If only a mere 20% of the over 300 million population of the USA boycott ACA the government would be overwhelmed to even think they could penalize or mandate every citizen that refused to participate in the most corrupt and unlawful ways which it was passed that circumvented the constitution of the United States

  • Report this Comment On November 09, 2013, at 7:20 PM, SouthfieldMike wrote:

    I doubt very much that there's a rush of Americans to sign up for healthcare, but I'll bet that there's an

    avalanche of people looking to sign up for Medicaid! We'll hopefully see some numbers by

    Nov. 15, but don't hold your breath.

  • Report this Comment On November 09, 2013, at 9:02 PM, kac92 wrote:

    For Georgeyo -- I think you might be at the wrong site. Did you go to Covered California?? Because that's the state's website. I don't need the insurance, but I've checked out the site several times, including just now and it was working just fine.

    For doco177 -- don't know where your getting your information, BUT congress is NOT exempt! They had their gov't insurance, but a Republican thought that the Dems wouldn't vote for the pkg if Congress had to use "Obamacare", but he was wrong, and now they all have to. As for Native Americans..if they live on tribal land then you are correct because technically they are a separate nation. I have a SIL who is 1/2 Pomo Indian, and does not live on any reservation and is subject to all state and federal laws. As for Muslims being exempt?? Seriously? Were sniffing something or what.

    I really don't know what the problem so many of you have with The Affordable Care is for those who are not employed fulltime, whose income is above the poverty level, and so on. Your payment is based upon your individual income and family situation. All of us with insurance have been paying to cover all of the uninsured for decades...hospitals pass the cost onto the insurance companies to cover the cost of the uninsured, for which they are legally obligated to to care for, and then the insurance companies raise their rates. The most recent employment numbers show that full-time employment has actually increased in the last few months, Disney made all of their employees full-time!

  • Report this Comment On November 09, 2013, at 9:16 PM, quacker wrote:

    this aca is the worst thing for this country since well gosh ever

  • Report this Comment On November 09, 2013, at 10:14 PM, JudyR50 wrote:

    kac92 is correct. doco177 is badly misinformed. Any religious group may apply for exemption but unless they have an established history of not participating in insurance programs, including social security, it is unlikely they will get an exemption. The Amish and the Mennonites are 2 religious groups who do not pay into any insurance programs so they could qualify for exemption. Muslims pay into and collect social security and other types of ins. and therefore they are not exempt. Native Americans are exempt because they have their own health ins. organization called The Indian Health Service which is a division of the U.S. Health and Human Services. They are required through treaty obligations to serve all patients of Indian ancestry.through their own network of clinics. Last but not least we all, that is those of us who pay attention, know that Congress is not exempt. This info can be verified through several websites including I do wish people would do the research before spewing misinformation and scaring people.

  • Report this Comment On November 10, 2013, at 5:52 AM, Ndpndnt wrote:

    I believe the ACA will fail, because it has been so poorly conceived, and planned. The system used in Australia is a good example of the type of national healthcare that could work in the US, Basically a catastrophic type of coverage, with more comprehensive, optional coverage available on a fee basis. There is simply no way to offer Medicare/Medicaid style government sponsored national healthcare without an extreme rise in taxation - this is simple mathematics, and should be obvious to anyone with basic addition/subtraction type of math skills. There is X number of dollars, Y number of insured, and Z number of health care providers. When Y is the only number that changes, how do you make that system work? YOU DON'T!!

    Having said all that, I would argue that the opponents of the ACA are largely responsible for the current hurdles. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Many of the opponents to the ACA, on a state by state basis, have resisted implementation of the ACA at every turn, and then they protest the lack of smoothness in implementing the ACA with tongue in cheek, because they know they are responsible for every last hiccup.

    I protest the ACA, but I would love to see every American have at least enough coverage to avoid individual financial ruin from healthcare costs. It is an absolute necessity that rising healthcare costs be addressed, and at some point physicians must be held accountable. The AMA is probably the single largest culprit in failure to reign in healthcare costs. Every time Washington attempts to reign in the healthcare budget the physician's mafia, uh-hum, I mean the AMA lobbies to water down the cuts, and/or pass on the cuts to other healthcare professionals. Ultimately, this serves only to reduce the availability of lower cost (in comparison to physicians) healthcare providers. This forces services to be provided by physicians when they could be provided by less expensive, but fully qualified ancillary (an unfortuante title) healthcare providers, and also acts to reduce supply of ancillary providers which increases their salaries. Do you need a cardiologist just to have your blood pressure checked? Do you need a neurologist to determine if you can track an object in all directions of your visual field? Do you need an orthopedic surgeon to wrap a sprained ankle? Physicians would argue that you do. I can personally attest to this, having witnessed first hand physicians opposing the use of physical therapists to conduct pre-employment physicals, which consist of work-up for medical history, measurement of vital signs, etc. Physical therapists now complete 3.5 years of post graduate study. I would certainly hope that physical therapists are capable of completing the tasks involved in pre-employment physicals after completion of doctorate level studies, and passing a national licensing exam, followed by mandatory bi-annual continuing education requirements. Furthermore, physical therapists charge considerably less for the physical examination. To reduce healthcare costs in the USA, we must do away with the physician playing the role of "gatekeeper," because this is indeed a very expensive gatekeeper.

  • Report this Comment On November 10, 2013, at 7:52 AM, peckbill wrote:

    Young people operate in a crisis mode; if there is not a crisis they would rather do nothing but visit with friends they are not supposed to be with, drink what they are not supposed to drink, eat only when starving or junk food, treat money as though it were trash and give it away to a friend or buy junk with it. They have a brain that is not yet developed and it probably won't develop for years to come; some brains will never develop because of burn out. Girls think of boys and what is hung between their legs and boys think of girls and what is between their legs; both often think with these body parts. When they get sick it is an emergency or Mom and Dad take care of them. Trying to entice young people to do the right thing is almost impossible. This is a very big mistake that was made with the ACA.

    Also keep in mind that many young people, especially males, are out of work or have only part time employment and should qualify for Medicaid, but they will not apply because they are lazy and/or believe that anything that is free has attachments tied to it and they want nothing to do with it. Many young males try to apply for Medicaid and are turned away because they cannot prove that they are unemployed or disabled and are told they must get a medical evaluation; where is the money coming from to get a medical evaluation? This leads the young males to believe the program is for women.

    There are still a lot of problems with who can apply, where they can apply and what do they need to be qualified. I am aware of one male that is unemployed, is medically not able to work that was told he has to get a medical evaluation (to get a medical evaluation, the hospital wants over $200.00 up front for the evaluation. Where does he get the money? He gives up and stays on the list as one that doesn’t apply) before they will give him Medicaid. The workers in the field are either not knowledgeable or they are discouraging young people from applying. Training and guidance is needed in the field; not just at the federal level.

  • Report this Comment On November 10, 2013, at 8:20 AM, oldnana wrote:

    Congress may have to participate in Obamacare, but they DO get subsidies for doing so. Do you?

  • Report this Comment On November 10, 2013, at 9:09 AM, buckeyes wrote:

    Obama will go down as the worst president in history. He's had not one success since being president. everything that he touches turns to mud. But, you voted for him. Elections have consequents.

  • Report this Comment On November 10, 2013, at 9:13 PM, doubtsince1932 wrote:

    Obama deserves all the credit he is enjoying for this wonderful gift he has given the American people. But... someone should say to Ms. Pelosi,.. " Thanks Nancy, we passed it, and now we can see what's in it." Good job.

  • Report this Comment On November 11, 2013, at 5:37 PM, ayjaymay wrote:

    re: CGI Group.

    A division of CGI also was one of the leads vendors in creating the hightly successful Kentucky and California health exchanges, though noticed that you didn't mention that in your post. The company will survive the misinformation you tend to believe about the company. HHS/CMS has actually asked CGI to help resolve the issues that some of the other 50 vendors on were responsible. for.

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