Monday, November 4, 2013

A few thoughts on ACA...

Listening to a congressional hearing last week via radio on the way to guess? Quick lunchtime shopping break to relax my brain and all I hear is “why don’t you know how many people have signed up? Are eligible? How many signed up and are using a plan in October? How come you don’t know? You should know. How come you can’t answer this?”

Maybe my retail background can be of some assistance in explaining the reporting time issue, which I call the “I need instant gratification to prove to my constituents that I’m doing something here in DC, and I love to hear myself talk” issue.

When a national chain store, say Nordstrom, wants to know how their entire US-based chain did for the month of October, it takes AT LEAST two weeks. Two weeks? Who has two weeks? Why does it take so long?!?

In this case, let’s look at each individual silver Nordstrom tree, rather than the entire Nordstrom forest. Let’s look at just one store: Each and every department in that store has to tabulate October sales and report those sales figures to the management office/store manager, who then must double check those numbers. Once those are reviewed several times for accuracy, that individual store manager funnels their final sales report to their district manager. The district manager then must double check each of her/his numbers for every store they are responsible for, then send those reports further up the funnel to the corporate HQ. Lots of number crunching Lots of time.

Let’s flip this over to ACA. Once you sign up online, you are supposed to “shop” for a plan and (hopefully) sign up for one. So thousands enter one “funnel” then are broken up into several more funnels. It takes each of those separate funnels time to tabulate solid numbers, which they then send back up the funnel. The “funnel manager” must double check, ok, quadruple check, these numbers, then compare it to what was projected, in order to know if the ACA online sign up/registration is on track or not. Lots of number crunching. Lots of time.

I could be completely off base here, but if I was sitting in a congressional hearing and asked those same questions I mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t speculate. I’d give the facts. Let’s not blast what we don’t know until we know it folks.