2013 was a bad year for customer service in using the Healthcare.gov website. The site was not ready on October 1, 2013. For Americans who earn their living through a website it was obvious that there was a major mistake in the launch of the website. Not being able to go online is a loss of revenue and income to online computer workers. Every day a site is down the company and the worker loses money.
Joseph of Computer Solutions earns his living fixing computers, getting rid of computer viruses, and repairing computer problems. “I wish the White House had contacted me to help with the website. I could have helped them,” he said.
It is difficult to fix a problem until one admits there is a problem. The present writer attended a White House Conference on August 7, 2013, where the launch of Healthcare.gov was discussed in detail. Unfortunately, the press was asked not to report on the conference. A conference on using websites and digital classrooms was held in Congress on December 5, 2013. That conference was open to the press with no restrictions on publication.
Questions raised in August might have prevented the public outcry and shock when the Healthcare.gov site failed in October. Joseph understands. “Computer online servers must be maintained and monitored. It is a complex system that allows people to access the internet,” Joseph said. Another factor that led to the failure of the website was the sheer number of people trying to access the site at the same time.
The computer expert said having 300 million people go to a website will crash the site and overload the servers. This should have been anticipated. The problem was also exacerbated by a mesmerized and fawning media that forgot the first lesson taught in Journalism 101: Trust but verify.
Without telling the public the potential problems and the whole truth about the websites problems; before the launch, made the complaints from people who were confused and uninformed about the website and the actual failure of the launch that much more shocking and troubling. Reporters are not supposed to be in bed with the subjects of their coverage. It never worked and it never will. Journalists are required to tell the truth.
The relationship between the reporter and subject should always follow the fly on the wall mentality. Friendship and reporting never go together. Reporters are not meant to be friends with the people they cover. In 1980, after graduating from journalism school, the present writer was assigned to cover the Law Enforcement beat for The Columbia Record. The first big story was a bribe taken by Columbia Police Chief Arthur Hess. The chief had been friendly and had granted the reporter several interviews. But the line was drawn between reporter and subject. When the chief was caught red handed taking a bribe there was no hesitation in the reporter telling the story. The police chief went to prison.
Reporting on the police chief was bad news; however, it was the truth. In over 30 years after reporting on the police chief corruption the rules of journalism have not changed. The Healthcare.gov website did not work. It simply did not work. Many Americans complied with President Barack Obama. But the website would not let them enroll. It froze, redirected, and gave false error messages. The website told a customer that he was not entering his name correctly when the customer had the name for nearly 60 years. As digital classrooms replace paper textbooks and chalkboard classrooms there is no way to deny that using websites, computer tablets and online technology is a step into the future. But the websites must work properly.
The honest truth is computers malfunction, websites have glitches, and computer viruses can destroy a computer network. Computer experts have studied computer technology for decades. It is their responsibility to fix a system that is broken. However, the problem must be reported before it can be fixed. The was no intentional effort to make the Healthcare.gov website fail. Overloading the servers will crash any website. The simple truth is the site was not ready to launch on October 1, 2013.
There are over 300 million Americans and all are required to be covered under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Law. Having thousands enroll when hundred of millions must enroll is far from the mark. The website must work for the program to work. The Healthcare.gov failure to launch was the biggest national news story of 2013. The story is not over yet. Stay tuned to the Examiner.com website for news and information.
Next up in the year end review: The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth; the IRS Scandal.