Ohio Obamacare Exchange Trainwreck Keeps Piling Up

Ten days after the launch of Ohio’s Obamacare exchange at HealthCare.gov, the online “marketplace” run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is still a disaster.

As Media Trackers reported last week, Ohio’s Obamacare registration process is plagued by the same issues reported by users across the country: lengthy delays, broken code on basic web forms, and cryptic errors.

Just before midnight last Tuesday, I was finally able to create an Obamacare account. I tried to log in to that account this afternoon, and the results were ugly.

The second-most-prominent page at HealthCare.gov — a screen instructing users to wait before attempting to create a new account or even log in to an existing account — has received more attention since last week. Today’s version advises users that they “might be able to apply faster at our Marketplace call center.”

Nothing instills confidence in the vast new web-based bureaucracy of Obamacare quite like being told to call a government 800 number if you’re “in a hurry.”

After waiting two minutes for the Obamacare site to load the login form, I entered the username and password that I chose last week. The site appeared to process my login successfully, briefly displayed a “Please wait” loading animation, but then dropped me onto a “Get Insurance” screen with my name in the top right corner and no content in the body of the page.

After more than a minute of inactivity, an “Unexpected Error” message appeared in the center of the screen, followed by a placeholder where an error code apparently should have been.

I clicked the “Get Insurance” link at the top of the page… and was punted back to the HealthCare.gov home page. When I clicked the “Apply Now” button, I was sent to an introductory account creation screen despite having already logged in to the site.

After clicking the “Get Started” button on the initial account creation screen, I was forwarded through a blank screen with a stopwatch animation at the top before being dropped back at the login form.

I followed the same process again for good measure: I was able to log in, but the “Get Insurance” screen loaded with a useless error message and clicking the “Get Insurance” link at the top of the page booted me out of the system.

In an October 8 story about HealthCare.gov, tech blog Ars Technica reported that “potential registrants talking to phone support today have been told that all user passwords are being reset to help address the site’s login woes.”

Could this be connected to my account issues is some way? Despite providing my Media Trackers email address upon registration, I have received no outage or maintenance notifications from HHS.

Even for the unknown number of Americans who have been able to create Obamacare accounts, log in, and hand over the reams of private information necessary to review federally-approved health insurance plans, Ars reported that programming bugs “have been causing errors in determining whether individuals are eligible for subsidized plans under the program.”

Socialized medicine advocates may not be concerned with details like whether the system “works,” but how much dysfunctional web code should poor Ohioans be expected to wade through before giving up on Obamacare’s promised subsidies and hoping the penalties are administered as incompetently as the website?

How much trust should Americans place in an enormously complex HHS system that cannot even manage usernames and passwords?

Fox 59 in Indianapolis reported yesterday that a number of Indiana school districts have sued the IRS over an illegal Obamacare rule identified by the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon and Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve University as one of the law’s many weaknesses.

In Indiana, Ohio, and the other 25 states where Obamacare exchanges are being run by the federal government, HHS and the IRS lack statutory authority to levy penalties and provide subsidies — a fact that will render Obamacare inoperable in those states once it is recognized by a judge.

Not that Obamacare is especially operable to begin with.