As with the iPhone, waiting in line for health care exchanges on the first day is a waste of your time; but learning about them is not

Visitors to Washington state's exchange site saw this message Tuesday morning.
Visitors to Washington state’s exchange site saw this message Tuesday morning.

A crush of health insurance buyers and lookie-loos are predictably knocking over websites today, frustrating consumers who want to sign up for coverage at a health care exchange.  But there’s no need to rush. Coverage doesn’t start until Jan. 1, and you have until Dec. 15 to sign up.  So no need to keep hitting refresh. Coverage you buy tomorrow, or next week, will work just as good as coverage you buy today. In fact, no doubt, the experience will be less frustrating, as some of the kinks will be ironed out.

There are kinks. Readers trying to visit California’s exchange site, as well as HealthCare.gov, report very sluggish service.  The state of Washington’s exchange site was unavailable, most likely overwhelmed by web traffic.

Unlike the iPhone, there will be temporary shortage of the gold model. “Try again tomorrow,” is a pretty good strategy.

But while we are on the subject of wasting time, it’s depressing that media coverage of the government shutdown is running perhaps 5-to-1 vs coverage of the health care exchange launch.  The shutdown is a largely symbolic gesture, designed as a misdirection play to hijack the national conversation. Major media can’t help itself, with all those reporters crowding into meaningless press conferences in and around the Capitol. But you don’t have to fall for it.  Spend at least much time learning about the exchanges as do reading about whether or not the zoo pandas are being fed, and deciding for yourself, if they are good or bad, and America will be a better place.

 

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About Bob Sullivan 1638 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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