Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the launch has been riddled with problems. Accessing the sign-up page, poor Web design, untested and inept technology, and endless attacks on how the launch was handled by the humans in charge of it have all been cited. We will skip over the fact that many do not even want the initiative launched in the first place.
24/7 Wall St. cannot help but wonder if the entire process should have been outsourced to American technology giants in the first place. The government's disastrous launch has been such an embarrassment that it may have to ride it out for better or worse at this point. Still, several great American online and technology companies could have made this process much smoother for the government. They also likely would have been willing to foot the whole technology and operating bill to get the ongoing business ahead.
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It is important to remember that the goal is to get 7 million Americans signed up for the new health care plans in the first few months. Private industry is simply better at running initiatives of this size than the government itself.
It is easy to acknowledge that the launch might have had problems regardless of who handled the launch. There have been millions of people trying to sign up, with thousands or millions or people potentially accessing the system simultaneously, and the government keeps advertising to sign up now, even with all the problems the system has had. We also would bet that hundreds of millions of dollars already have been spent advertising the new initiative as well.
All things being equal, 24/7 Wall St. is more interested in solutions and ideas, rather than simply trying to play Monday morning quarterback. Admittedly, all these companies have experienced outages or customer service issues in the past with their systems. The difference is that all the companies have proven able and actionable in immediately remedying the issues rather than taking weeks like the government has.
Only established online technology titans could accommodate this initiative. It also seems likely that the entire online application process could be moved over in fairly short order because these companies all now have years of experience in turning on new floodgates of traffic overnight for customers.
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These companies and others can handle millions of users, either on a simultaneous basis or within a brief period. They have been listed alphabetically to avoid any ranking.
Akamai Technologies Inc. (AKAM) definitely could help Healthcare.gov, although perhaps it would work as an accelerator for the sign-up process rather than handling the entire system. Either way the company could be a definite boost to the system. Akamai helps customers deliver content and interactivity from enterprises involved in media, financial websites and global enterprises.
Akamai already helps the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, Best Buy, Yahoo!, media giants and government agencies get the content faster and without interruption to end users. Government clients include the FDA, FEMA, the Department of Defense, Department of Education and more. This already implies millions upon millions of simultaneous users interacting with the content directly.
Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) would be another solid contender to run the online health care initiative. It has millions of users and its accounts also are integrated directly with credit cards or bank accounts. The government might be happy that Jeff Bezos has proven over and over that he is willing to operate on razor-thin operating margins in order to secure the company's market share in 2016 to 2020. Enterprise customers are using the Amazon.com cloud structure already as well, so Amazon is even far more reaching than the public is aware of.
What Amazon also offers for possible government synergies is that it has acquired many niche businesses that it is either growing to be the next leaders or that give the company a foothold for future growth. It already accommodates shoppers comparing prices and features of products directly, and this could easily be done for health care offerings.
eBay Inc. (EBAY) is a company that most of the public considers to be the near-monopoly in online auctions, but eBay keeps acquiring commerce companies. The reality is that it can handle millions of accounts without fail and it claims more than 100 million active users globally now. It can handle thousands upon thousands of simultaneous transactions, and it has the ability to equally house merchant and consumer logins at the same time. PayPal is already linked to millions of bank accounts and credit cards as is, which would allow for an almost instant integration of paying monthly.
The company even showed that in 2011 the total value of goods sold on eBay was $68.6 billion. This came to more than $2,100 every second. eBay also represented that PayPal processes more than 7.7 million payments every day, and that it expects to process $20 billion in mobile payments alone in 2013.
Google Inc. (GOOG) is known for instantly jumping into the products and services markets of all sorts. The company has proven time after time that it will do this even if it has no ambitions of instant profits or even a clear path to profits ahead. Google handles millions upon millions of search results, Gmail, chats, videos, advertisements, social monitoring queries and more at the same instant. It easily would be able to allocate enough data center space to handle one more giant initiative. The company even could use all of its mobile technology to integrate health care on the fly.
Google might have to sign in blood that its databases cannot be tapped for any search and intelligence uses of its own, but maybe not. It is plausible that the mere access to intelligence and metadata around health care trends alone would incentivize the company enough to run the entire service for free.
Many others could jump in here as well, and you know that some probably have been consulted with and their technology or services used. Salesforce.com, Oracle and Microsoft could all have their hands in the health care initiative for their enterprise cloud applications. What about companies such as WordPress with its 60 million websites now and with close to 20% of the most popular websites as clients? Then there is IBM in equipment and services, and Big Blue already is vertically integrated into probably every single government agency in some form or fashion.
Dozens, or maybe even hundreds, of various IT contracting and technology firms already have been used in some form or fashion. These are just some of the obvious companies that could help with this initiative overnight.