You can make Obamacare's exchange technology usable. But that doesn't mean that the uninsured will suddenly decide they like it.
There's little question that Obamacare has fewer tech woes now than when its online health insurance exchange system launched in October. Anything approaching functionality, however, would have been a meaningful improvement. During the first month, the federal exchange covering 36 states was practically unusable for most people. And the second month wasn't a whole lot better.
The most noticeable operational improvement came at the beginning of December. Capacity improved significantly, error rates dropped, and lots of users finally found that they could get through the gauntlet: The vast majority of the insurance sign-ups that have been reported in the federal exchange system took place during that third month.
What didn't improve by much, however, was the perception of the user experience amongst the uninsured. Daily tracking polls by Gallup found that, overall, 63 percent of the uninsured who visited an exchange site reported a negative experience using Obamacare's exchanges in October and November, when the online technology was at its worst.
Yet even after the December technology upgrades, a clear majority of the same group continued to give the site poor marks. According to the same daily tracking poll, 59 percent of the uninsured reported a negative or very negative experience using the exchanges. Indeed, the share of uninsured individuals who reported a "very negative" experience stayed the same at 29 percent; the percentage who said their experience was negative dropped from 34 in October and November to 30 percent in December.
File this under More Reasons Obamacare Won't Be Popular Any Time Soon. Yes, many more people are now signing up for coverage under the law, but its design, even the part that's supposed to be simple and user-friendly, remains irksome, even to the uninsured—the people the law is supposedly designed to benefit the most.