Applicants whose data contained fatal errors may not end up with insurance by the final deadline, whenever the administration decides that occurs. If just 10 percent of the claimed 2 million applicants fail to get insurance because of back-end website errors, then 200,000 Americans will have failed to sign up because the website doesn’t work. That’s something more than a myth.
The back end presents a challenge since the exchange website needs to cross-communicate with varied computer systems, many of them coding their data differently.
Sign up by phone?
The DNC hints that applicants have the option of bypassing the exchange website, choosing their plans over the phone instead. Indeed, applicants can bypass the front end of the website by phone, but all applications must eventually funnel into the computerized system. Phone applications are either entered into a computer directly—facing the same potential front-end difficulties—or else applicants’ information is recorded on paper forms for later entry into the system.
ABC News reported the problem back in November of 2013 (bold emphasis added):
A series of internal Obama administration memos obtained exclusively by ABC News reveal for the first time how dysfunction with HealthCare.gov has upended the entire Affordable Care Act enrollment process, including applications by paper and phone that officials have been pushing as more reliable alternatives.