“Software and Design Defects Cripple Health-Care Website” reads the Wall Street Journal’s main headline today.
The article describes the frustrations faced by people trying to enroll and buy insurance through the federal government’s not-free “marketplaces.” There are “coding problems and flaws in the architecture of the system.” The system is not properly “confirm[ing] the identities of enrollees.” It crashes sometimes “as users try to create accounts, the first step before they can apply for coverage.” “[A] system that determines whether people are eligible for federal subsidies to buy insurance … continued to make some inaccurate determinations.”
In a free and competitive market, how would customers react who were faced with such problems and frustrations? They would drop the service provider offering lousy service and turn to one of its competitors. Or they would just do without the service. That’s the process by which market forces regulate quality. Free choice and competition weed out those that provide poor quality and reward those that provide good quality.
And that process is missing for the millions of Americans for whom the government’s system is the only option, including those whose employers have dropped their coverage because the Affordable Care Act has made providing coverage unaffordable. And no one is allowed to decline insurance altogether.
What’s the process that will regulate the quality of these state and federal governments’ health insurance exchanges? The political process. Legislative oversight. The same process that regulates the quality of the US Postal Service, Amtrak, and government schools. How’s that working out for us?