President Obama seems to have a number of new advisors, and it looks as if they’re telling him to get out more and be friendlier to reporters.
I hope they also tell him to get someone from the National Weather Service to develop a simple, easy-to-update “weather chart” for the HealthCare.gov enrollment system, and to update the chart every day.
Maybe also copy the public meeting system like the California or the Nevada exchanges use.
Instead of having a big, formal, scary teleconference every month just to unveil a massive collection of enrollment statistics, and make lots of vague, cheerful statements about how well Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act implementation is going, have various department managers talk about what’s actually going well and what’s going right.
PPACA supporters tend to talk about the law as if it’s the work of God, and opponents as if it’s the work of Satan, but, realistically, it’s an experiment. It’s an awkward test of an idea that everyone’s talked about for ages — What if we had a system that made buying health insurance more like buying airplane tickets online? What would that do?
The PPACA exchange program is as complicated as it is partly because it was designed, in part, by a bunch of impractical dreamers who’ve barely ever bought their own individual health insurance in their lives, let alone sold or underwritten any or spent much time at GoHealth or eHealthInsurance.com. But it’s also as complicated as it is partly because it’s a lot harder to deal with concerns about fairness and adverse selection in a health insurance exchange than in an airplane ticket exchange, or an online bookstore.
The exchange program is an experiment.
One of the most important aspects of doing an experiment is that you have to have a good, honest lab notebook. You have to record what’s going on as well as you can, without thinking about whether the numbers agree with what you expected, and report the numbers and any complications and suspected or detected sources of error as well as you can.