Remember the fiscal crisis and recession of 2008, when hundreds of thousands of people were suddenly unemployed? And President Obama extended federally funded unemployment benefits? That program, the EUC or Emergency Unemployment Compensation (which is about to expire in January 2014, but that’s another story) was mostly administered online. The 4.1 million unemployed people who have submitted claims and received benefits online have done so without much technical difficulty (or publicity). So why should HealthCare.gov suffer so? Technical problems including crashes, slowness and a supply of incorrect information have been cited as causes to the lackluster number of enrollees for the private insurance plans available via the Affordable Care Act’s website. (Fewer than 50,000 have enrolled through the federally run sites in the first month; the Obama administrated was shooting for 500,000.)
The administration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) works, in part, because enrollees are directed to websites managed by individual states. HealthCare.gov handles insurance enrollment for 36 states without their own websites. The 14 states running their own insurance marketplaces have reported 49,000 enrollments.
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