Problems with Online Healthcare? “Blame Canada!”

Problems with Online Healthcare?  “Blame Canada!”
Erin Drushel, Contributor

Last week the U.S. Congress finally reached an agreement to not only end the government shutdown but also raise the country’s debt ceiling until February 2014.  The U.S. government is once again working… but apparently the Health Insurance Marketplace didn’t get the memo.

On October 1st, the gateway for many Americans to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) – www.healthcare.gov – opened with a very tumultuous start.  The website has been plagued with glitches, often times resulting in long waits, or completely crashing; frustrating many Americans.

This rocky start, however, has been a boon for those who are anti-Obamacare because clearly the whole law must be flawed if the website doesn’t work… right?

Spurious arguments aside, this is a real problem.  Most of us expect some manner of glitches with new websites or technology, but the sheer scale of problems in a website heralding President Obama’s signature law is quite baffling.  Which begs the question, who’s to blame?

Putting aside the obvious political blame game, we have to look to company that was hired to create the site.  In this case it was the American arm of the Canadian company, CGI Group…

Typically, my heart tends to swell with pride when I hear about Canadian companies making a name for themselves.  I’m the type of person who gets excited when I read “Made in Canada” on the package of my American-bought maple and brown sugar oatmeal.  Unfortunately, in this instance, I’m more inclined to go sit in the back corner and wait for the headlines to pass.

Once it becomes widely known it is a Canadian company at the heart of this technological strife, I am certain to receive any number of familial jabs blaming Canada (I get them every time a Canada goose crosses into the U.S. without a passport.)  Some may even break into song.

If this situation is embarrassing for me how embarrassing must it be for other Canadian companies trying to break into the U.S. market; and how at risk are they of being painted with the same brush?  A national snafu doesn’t instill confidence.

My friends in Ontario may recall eHealth’s over-time, over-budget diabetes health registry…yeah, that was the CGI Group who was subsequently fired for not being able to do the job.

Well, here we are again; over-time, over-budget, but this time over the border.

– Erin Drushel

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