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Chasing your tail: Obama’s 1-800 number leads to same faulty system

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During what has been dubbed the Obamacare infomercial speech Monday, the president acknowledged that HealthCare.gov had a few glitches, but urged everyone to call an 800 number manned by operators available 24/7 and conversant in 150 languages. What he didn’t say was that applications by phone and on paper are plagued with the same disastrous glitches as the website.

The problem is, no matter how someone enrolls, the application will still have to be entered into the malfunctioning website. That could prove an hours-long process for each applicant, according to Politico.

“I feel like we’re sort of back in the era of control-alt-delete, where we’re trying to figure out the different tricks that facilitate people’s enrollment,” said Jennifer Ng’andu, director of health policy for the National Council of La Raza.

After the president’s “infomercial” speech in the Rose Garden, Politico attempted to call the 800 number, reporting:

Of course, reading an 800 number on national TV — as the president did in the Rose Garden the other day — created a flood of callers who couldn’t get through. That led to another wave of frustration and Obamacare punch lines. But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tweeted on Thursday that HHS bulked up the call center to include more than 10,000 trained representatives.

Politico reporters who got recorded announcements earlier in the week — sometimes directing them to try HealthCare.gov — can now get through to the call center. Once they connect, staffers like “Justin” try to get people’s information into the online system.

But staffers at the help center are using the same glitch-ridden site consumers are using.

“The site does not work for us, either,” Justin told Politico.

The administration finally addressed HealthCare.gov’s glitches Friday, more than three weeks after its inauguration.

“We’re confident by the end of November, HealthCare.gov will be smooth for a vast majority of users,” said Jeff Zients, the former White House aide brought in to oversee the repair.

But can we count on such assurances? In the days leading up to the Oct. 1 rollout, both President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the site was up and ready.

To make matters worse, the site’s faulty design means someone else may end up deciding what insurance an applicant gets – and it may not necessarily be what the enrollee wants, according to Fox News.

In most similar websites, you pick and choose among available products before entering identifying information. HealthCare.gov requires the reverse — and setting up the account seems to be creating a bottleneck.

The Soviet Union’s failed experiment of running a national economy should have been a lesson — the more government tinkers with the free market, the bigger mess it makes of it.

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