Obama's Amazon Problem

Nov 12, 2013

President Obama has many problems these days, and he can thank his Chief Technology Officer Todd Park for the latest.

Later this week, the Obama administration will release data on the number of Americans who have enrolled in Obamacare. On Monday, the Washington Post's Sarah Kliff confirmed with an anonymous "administration official" who will count as Obamacare enrollee:

Health insurance plans only count subscribers as enrolled in a health plan once they've submitted a payment. That is when the carrier sends out a member card and begins paying doctor bills.
When the Obama administration releases health law enrollment figures later this week, though, it will use a more expansive definition. It will count people who have purchased a plan as well as those who have a plan sitting in their online shopping cart but have not yet paid.

Not only will the government have different enrollment numbers than the insurance companies, the feds will also count transactions differently than other private sector companies. In testimony before the House Oversight Committee today, Park acknowledged Amazon would not count sales in the manner described above.

That is a problem for President Obama, who invoked Amazon in a Rose Garden speech on October 1:

Just visit, and there you can compare insurance plans, side by side, the same way you'd shop for a plane ticket on Kayak or a TV on Amazon.

If you put a TV in your cart on and then close the web browser, there is no transaction. The TV doesn't leave the warehouse and the money doesn't leave your bank account. Period.

The President can compare and Obamacare to whatever successful private-sector ventures he wants, but it only serves to highlight the stunning scope of his failure.