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dkf's Journal
dkf's Journal
October 5, 2013

99% of Obamacare applications hit a wall

As few as 1 in 100 applications on the federal exchange contains enough information to enroll the applicant in a plan, several insurance industry sources told CNBC on Friday. Some of the problems involve how the exchange's software collects and verifies an applicant's data.

"It is extraordinary that these systems weren't ready," said Sumit Nijhawan, CEO of Infogix, which handles data integrity issues for major insurers including WellPoint and Cigna, as well as multiple Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates.

Experts said that if Healthcare.gov's success rate doesn't improve within the next month or so, federal officials could face a situation in January in which relatively large numbers of people believe they have coverage starting that month, but whose enrollment applications are have not been processed.

"It could be public relations nightmare," said Nijhawan. Insurers have told his company that just "1 in 100" enrollment applicants being sent from the federal marketplace have provided sufficient, verified information.

One insurer reported a better, but still stunningly low, rate of enrollment applications containing enough data to process for coverage.

"It's about half of what we've received," a source at that insurer said.

"We're getting incomplete data—about half of the applications we haven't been able to process," said the source, who used the term "corrupted" to describe the batch of applications received.


October 5, 2013

Reddit developers analysis of healthcare.gov

Cited by Ezra Klein at wonkblog. A bit over my head but for the techies...


[–]MikesWastedLife 64 points 4 days ago
hahaha. my wife works on this project, but not as a developer. last night she said "i have no idea how the site is going to go live tomorrow." well now we know.

[–]Spektr44 22 points 3 days ago
View source. They're loading 11 CSS files and 62 (wat?) JavaScript files on each page, uncompressed and without expires headers. They have blocks of HTML inexplicably wrapped in script tags. Wtf?

[–]enigmamonkey 6 points 3 days ago
Wow. That sort of unnecessary overhead is going to kill their servers in HTTP requests that could have been minified and packed into two files (1 CSS and 1 JS).

[–]Spektr44 6 points 3 days ago
Absolutely. The only time I've had one of my sites crash under load, it wasn't due to db access or dynamic content. It was due to me being naive about serving static content, and the site was getting slammed on those requests. That's when I got a clue about CSS sprites, combining CSS and JS, setting proper headers, using a CDN, etc. But I don't think I've ever seen anything as bad as including 62 javascript files on a page!

[–]enigmamonkey 2 points 3 days ago
I too speak from first hand experience on this, which scares me. This site seems reasonably well designed but technically I assume they would have prepared better from a performance efficiency standpoint. I have personally been in that position where there were thousands of people slamming a server all at the same moment, and I was (figuratively) pulling my hair out trying to figure out what to do and how. It suggests they didn't put thought into the sort of traffic they'd receive at all and it turned into a huge news event and honestly, talk about pressure! I'm glad I didn't have an entire nation watching me and my team... Phew!

October 5, 2013

Information week: Obamacare Insurance Exchange Websites: Tech Critique

Bansal suspects the real problem is that even though Obamacare proponents talked about wanting to provide a slick online consumer shopping experience, the government technologists (and even the consulting firms they hired) had too little experience with what that really means. Most federal and state organizations run largely informational websites or applications that serve a relatively small population of employees and contractors, he said. "Very few government organizations would have these sorts of very large scale, public, interactive, transactional Web apps -- it's a newer thing for them."

The behavior of the Healthcare.gov site suggests that it was probably the registration software component that stalled or failed under high load, Bansal said. "Most of the bottlenecks in a system like this are in software, not hardware." Now that the bottlenecks are glaringly obvious the site architects will be able to address them in the coming weeks and months, he predicted.

"This is a crisis-driven, death march project," said Bill Curtis, chief scientist at Cast, a software quality analysis firm, and the director of the Consortium for IT Software Quality.

"A lot of it is probably a badly designed law, which is like badly designed software," Curtis said. That's not a political statement -- he's in favor of people getting access to health insurance -- but the complexities of the law also make for complex software logic, making it harder to deliver a working system.

"In many cases, these kinds of problems start before IT gets the call to start building the system," Curtis said. "I think you can see that from the way this seems to be almost universal across the states. It's a pretty consistent problem across all people trying to implement state or national exchanges."

Adding to the complexity, the insurance exchanges are not standalone but also need to connect to other state, federal, and insurance company systems, Curtis said. "If you barely had time to get your system up, you probably didn't have time to test the interfaces, and most IT people will tell you the biggest problems crop up with layers of systems and interactions between different systems."


October 5, 2013

407-0 on back pay for furloughed workers.

Finally we see they can agree on SOMETHING.

"The legislation passed swiftly on Saturday morning, 407-0, and the White House has also endorsed the bill. "


October 5, 2013

30 Mindblowing Statistics About Americans Under The Age Of 30

#1 The labor force participation rate for men in the 18 to 24 year old age bracket is at an all-time low.

#2 The ratio of what men in the 18 to 29 year old age bracket are earning compared to the general population is at an all-time low.

#3 Only about a third of all adults in their early 20s are working a full-time job.

#4 For the entire 18 to 29 year old age bracket, the full-time employment rate continues to fall. In June 2012, 47 percent of that entire age group had a full-time job. One year later, in June 2013, only 43.6 percent of that entire age group had a full-time job.

#5 Back in the year 2000, 80 percent of men in their late 20s had a full-time job. Today, only 65 percent do.

#6 In 2007, the unemployment rate for the 20 to 29 year old age bracket was about 6.5 percent. Today, the unemployment rate for that same age group is about 13 percent.

#7 American families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#8 During 2012, young adults under the age of 30 accounted for 23 percent of the workforce, but they accounted for a whopping 36 percent of the unemployed.

#9 During 2011, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.



October 5, 2013

The CR is almost a moot point...it's debt ceiling time.

The CR is a mini shut down compared to not approving raising the debt limit.

And the smaller the next increase in the debt limit, the shorter the time when we will need to address this again.

We are set up for annual games of chicken. Ugh.

October 5, 2013

The individual mandate’s penalty costs more than you think

On Twitter today, the Washington Examiner's Justin Green asked why it was such a big deal to delay the individual mandate. After all, he noted, the penalty is just $95. How much could that possibly matter?

This is a common bit of confusion. The individual mandate's penalty is not $95 in year one. It's $95 or 1 percent of your taxable income, whichever is greater. So if you make $80,000 in taxable income, the penalty is $800.

And it grows each year. In year two, it's $325 or 2 percent of your taxable income. In year three, it's $695 or 2.5 percent of taxable income. After that, it effectively holds steady.

In all cases, the key is that people pay whichever penalty is larger. That means that it's the percentage penalty that will really matter for most people. Someone paying the $95 penalty is making $9,500 or less in 2014. That's a very low income. That $95 floor is there to encourage people to sign up for Medicaid (in states where Medicaid isn't being expanded, people making that little money will be exempted from the mandate on affordability grounds).

So that's the first point: The mandate's penalty is larger than many people think in 2014, and it gets even larger in 2015 and 2016. If you've got $76,000 in taxable income in 2016, you're paying a $1,900 penalty.


Wow that adds up. And is it per person? So an uninsured wife plus 2 uninsured kids? So 1% x 4 in year one growing to what?

October 4, 2013

What used to be considered paranoid is now our reality. That can't be good for mental health.

What does it do to a person to know their government can track every freaking thing they do? That every electronic device is capable of being a bug, that they basically have put a tracker on themselves?

That the government will know what we are thinking by looking at our emails and our searches, that they know who our friends are and who we speak with?

It's no longer paranoid and delusional to think your government is watching you and has the capability and the power to do so.

I guess we are all supposed to get over our misgivings and accept intrusion and constant surveillance? God forbid anyone feels panic over the thought.

October 4, 2013

Federal workers can collect unemployment during shutdown

Federal workers who lose pay during the government shutdown can fall back on unemployment benefits in most states.

But the money comes with a catch. If Congress decides later to retroactively pay those workers, they would have inadvertently double-dipped into the system and will be asked to return the money.

It's not clear whether furloughed workers will eventually receive paychecks or not, once the shutdown ends. But that's how it played out during the government shutdown in 1995 and 1996, after which, state agencies tried to recoup the overpaid funds.

Now, on day one of the latest shutdown, states with large numbers of federal employees like Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania have already posted advisories on their sites, indicating they plan to ask for the funds back, in the event that they overpay unemployment benefits to federal workers.

"If you receive back pay from your agency to cover the furlough period, you must repay any unemployment benefits you received for that time," the Virginia Employment Commission said in a Q&A on its site.


October 4, 2013

Miriam Carey, Capitol Suspect, Suffered Post-Partum Depression

A woman killed by police today after a high-speed chase through Washington, D.C., that led to a lockdown of Capitol Hill suffered post-partum depression following the recent birth of her daughter, the suspect's mother told ABC News.

"She had post-partum depression after having the baby" last August, said the woman's mother, Idella Carey.

She added, "A few months later, she got sick. She was depressed. ... She was hospitalized."

Carey had a 1-year-old daughter named Erica, her mother said. Police confirmed that a 1-year-old girl was taken from the car and put in "protective custody."

Idella Carey said her daughter had "no history of violence" and she did not know why she was in Washington, D.C. She said she believed Carey was taking the little girl to a doctor's appointment today in Connecticut.


I was wondering if this could be it when Luke Russert said there was a baby in the car.

Absolutely tragic.

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