Fact 1: Stock photo models are suffering from HealthCare.gov panic attacks
Well, not really, but satirical site TheOnion.com has certainly made it very convincing when they implied that the lady that was featured on the front page of the problematical website looks visibly distressed over the recent HealthCare.gov downtime. So famous was the iconic face on the website that many have tried and failed to locate her. Journalists searched high and low for more clues about the model (what we DO know is that she is possibly someone named Adriana, or at least that's the name of her image file before it was taken down from the website), but to no avail. Just when they thought they found her here, the modeling agency's owner refuted claims and adamantly insisted that no, his model isn't 'Adriana'. Someone thought he'd spotted her modeling bridal dresses but it turned out to be a doppelganger. CNN even went as far as to dedicate a whole segment on finding out who the mystery splash page girl was but she stubbornly refused to be found.
Lest you think she's not real, her authenticity has been verified by Richard Olague, spokesman for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, saying that the model allowed her photos to be used on the website but her personal details are to be withheld due to privacy policies.
The splash page has since been redesigned and 'Ariana' retired into oblivion, replaced by simple icons and explanation.
Fact 2: It's management failure, not technology failure.
The Guardian couldn't have said it better when they said: "Building a bad website is a technology failure. Launching a bad website is a management failure." All eyes and fingers were on the HealthCare.gov site after the October 1 launch, but people got frustrated because even the most basic operation could not be performed. Only one out of ten attempts to register a new account on the site was successful. Slow load times were reported by Compuware APM and Consumer Reports even cautioned against repeated attempts to log in the site and predicted that things may get better come early November.
The problem lies not solely with technological issues but with the management, which suggested that the government should have taken care to find out what the site can or cannot do BEFORE launching it and therefore creating a barrage of issues that should not have existed.
Fact 3: What does the HealthCare.gov site do, really?
The HealthCare.gov site is essentially a marketplace for insurance shoppers, and can even be likened as an e-Commerce site so Obama wasn't really that off the mark when he casually compared it to Amazon.com.
You first need to register yourself an account there. Upon completion, you'll be privy to a host of private health insurance plans in the Marketplace. However, whether you choose to sign up for affordable term life insurance or life insurance for diabetics, you will be glad to know that all of them cover essential health benefits assured by the Affordable Care Act. A list of mandatory health benefits is outlined here.
Fact 4: What are some insurance shopping alternatives?
If you were lucky enough to have created an account on HealthCare.gov, you'd already be aware that you should sign up by December 15 if you want to be officially covered by January 1, 2014. If you have been experiencing connectivity issues like millions of others, you would be glad to find out that alternatives are available elsewhere. For one, you can call the call center listed on the site. Or you can shed light on eligibility for subsidies or Medicaid which can help you discover the best plans you can afford. Bottom line is, there's more than a month left before the December 15 deadline comes a-knocking so use the extra time wisely to make comparison and avoid making hasty decisions.
Fact 5: The solution to HealthCare.gov website woes possibly lies in Yahoo!
Or more accurately, Yahoo!'s Chairman, Maynard Webb, has been called out by LinkedIn's CEO Jeff Weiner to do the job of saving the bothersome site. Most people will know Webb as the enterprising Chairman of the ebullient search engine reigning the late 90's, but he was actually a technologist who almost single-handedly saved eBay.com from being just another inefficient auction site after being plagued by frequent crashes. He declined but it may just be a matter of time before the President himself called upon Webb to help save the day.