The good news is the Affordable Care Act website - www.healthcare.gov - seems to be able to handle many users at one time.
After two months of website crashes, the White House now says healthcare.gov is able to handle as many as 50,000 users at one time. How they use it to explore health insurance options has been refined, too.
Now for the bad news: As many as one-fourth of the people who thought they had obtained health insurance through healthcare.gov may be "or-phans," federal officials confirmed last week. That is the term officials have coined to describe people who enrolled for insurance through the website but are not covered because the government never sent their information to insurance companies.
Even now, with the website supposedly repaired, as many as one in 10 people who enroll may be victimized by the same problem.
The government would shut down a private insurance company operating in a similar way. Such a company's executives might even be prosecuted for fraud.
But President Barack Obama's administration can get away with this because he says so.
The act is doing some good things, too. As per its stated goals, it is providing coverage for the uninsured, including those whose pre-existing conditions had caused insurance companies to snub them - although many of those have been unable to register successfully. The act has also weeded out weaker plans, although this had the unintended consequence of causing people to lose plans they had thought were secure.
By now, most people who get health insurance through their employers should have received their rates for next year. Some, like us, are finding that their rate increase is the lowest it's been in a long time and that their plan is better: more coverage with lower co-pays. Is this due in part to the ACA?
Other people probably aren't finding that, but from here we sit, it seems like an improvement. Over the last decade or so, every December one could count on learning that one's health insurance plan was about to get weaker and/or way more expensive.
It's hard to tell whether this is due to the ACA, though.
There is also serious reason to doubt that enough people will sign up for the ACA to give it the resources it needs. If most Americans get fed up with it and don't participate, the government, if it follows the new law, would have to fine them all. This would clearly not be a healthy outcome, especially since the people could probably make a reasonable claim that they weren't given a workable system to sign up for.
Despite its good sides and despite the treatment to its website, the Affordable Care Act still seems to be gravely ill.