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Obamacare Website Is the Tip of the Iceberg as Uncle Sam Catches Up on Tech

Matt Nesto
Obamacare Website Is the Tip of the Iceberg as Uncle Sam Catches Up on Tech

It has been a rough month for the roll out of the so-called Obamacare website, better known as Healthcare.gov. Although everyone from the administrator, to the Health and Human Services secretary, to the President of the United States has apologized for the chaos, and taken responsibility the failure, the problems still persist.

So far, no one has lost their job - or their pay - over the ordeal and a mad scramble is underway to get it fixed. But even when they do get it working, there's likely to be another digital disaster right behind it.

The Real Reason Obamacare Is a Disaster

"The ineptitude of the government in creating (this wesbite) is truly disturbing," says Zachary Karabell, the founder of River Twice Research and head of global strategy at Envestnet. "But (the problem) is structural. It's not Democrat or Republican," he says, adding that the most public and humiliating reboot in history "is not a symbol of anything other than this is a government that didn't know how to do it."

It's not as if we're talking about something truly unique either, like putting a man on the moon. There are scores of companies that routinely collect and collate confidential data.

Take credit card processor Visa (V), for example, who makes the following claim about their technical capabilities, referring to themselves as having built "one of the world’s most advanced processing networks (that is) capable of handling more than 20,000 transactions per second, with reliability, convenience and security, including fraud protection for consumers."

While a system of that sophistication may never exist under federal control, Karabell expects a lot more attempts to do so, before reminding people of Obamacare's unique status as being the first major piece of legislation whose delivery to the public is entirely digital.

Related: Republicans Must Fix Obamacare, Not Destroy it: Ben Stein

"The only relationship you and I have to this law, if we have any at all, is via a website which is actually a new thing."

To be sure, a good amount of the criticism is borne from politics, but Karabell is taking about what he refers to as a "more meta analysis" of the situation and the longer term ramifications.

"I think what's much more important for shaping our future is how is the federal government is going to behave digitally? How is it going to do things on line?" he offers, noting that aside from the currently embroiled NSA, the rest of the government "is not well-suited to creating this kind of digital system."

Maybe not. But they will be, or will at least try to be , in the near future as a sweeping array of tech-catchup will be foisted upon the people. A wave of 21st century advancement that, like or or not, is unstoppable

"I think good or bad, that ship has sailed," he says of the impending upgrade. "It's happening. I just hope that it happens well."

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