Tag Archives: Internet

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Ted Rall Signs Up For Obamacare, Part I

Here’s How It Went

My pre-October 1st cartoon about the then-impending launch of the Affordable Care Act (henceforth to be referred by the initially insulting, then appropriated, now drolly cute Obamacare) anticipated that the websites for the 50 states’ “healthcare marketplaces” would immediately crash.

Even after all these years and all this crap, there are still Obama defenders and they jumped down my virtual throat. Faithless! They cried. They were right. I am faithless. And I was right about the crashes. Though the pro-Obama media made excuses for the Administration’s lack of preparedness: “But it remained unclear whether the array of problems — many people received messages saying the system was down, and others were unable to create accounts to buy insurance — stemmed more from heavy traffic or from flaws in design,” reported The New York Times. I’ll pick “(b) flaws in design.” Cuz, like, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone that millions of people would check out those sites yesterday.

Which is why I waited until today.

Here’s how it went.

Step one: Find the site. Not a problem for an English-speaking, web-savvy, former computer programmer who went to an Ivy League engineering school (though they did kick me out). To the Google! Honestly, though, I shouldn’t have had to do this. Everyone should have received a mailing containing the basics, including the URL. I get a postcard every year telling me where to vote. Why didn’t the government do the same thing for Obamacare?

Here’s what came up:

The website came right up. So far, so good. Yes we can! O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma! But then…an Error Message. Actually more of a You Might Get an Error Error Message. Which is even more confusing than an Error Message. It’s a like a store that puts a sign on its window reading “Maybe Closed, Maybe Open.”

Come back later? That’s not the American way! Did Chris Columbus come back later? (Basically, yes, but shut up. Telling people who know facts to shut up is the American way!) Did the Conquistadors come back later? (They were Spanish. SHUT UP!)

I need healthcare today, not tomorrow. Well, I do need it tomorrow, but you know what I mean. I hope, because clearly I don’t.

Anyway: onward!

What is an “insurance assistor”? Does it involve anal probes? I’m not asking and I’m not telling. “Get started” — that’s me!

Now I am not so happy. Registering for anything online sucks. Can’t I just log in with Facebook or Twitter or Klout like I do for everything else? Apparently not.

Let’s create an account:

Good news! The User ID I wanted is available. I’m ready to go on a mad shopping spree for some awesome Obamacare!

Or not so much.

I have to wait for the confirmation email to arrive.

Waiting…waiting…waiting…there it is.

I can click. I will click. There — I clicked.

A new browser window opens.












OK, President Obama, you’ve got me back. Drones forgotten! Bankster bailouts a thing of the past. Who could resist the charm of a government program whose Secret Question Options include “first concert ever attended” (Sid Vicious solo) and “favorite comic book / cartoon character as a child” (Peanuts / Popeye)?  The “band poster” (Blondie, or was it The Clash) question is — dare we say it? — hip!

Let’s not dwell on the “last 5 digits of your favorite rewards card.”


I picked a password.






There’s a lot of clicking “continue” to do. But I’m American. Like Coronado!






Back to the first screen:



Obamacare is a metaphor for the Sisyphean metaphor for life: back to the beginning, under the virtual rock of the Sort of Error Message.

“Click Here to Login”? Sure. But then:












Ooo, minimalism. I’ll reload.

Did you know, an artist once defined minimalism as an empty room containing one cat. I think he did. Or she.


I tried to factcheck the cat line online, but I couldn’t find it. Maybe I dreamed it up. I slept a lot during art class. Reload. 9 am class with the lights off to show boring slides, what did they expect? Reload.
















Whoa, there it is!

I don’t need no stinkin’ “invitation code.” I’m me. I invite myself in, yo!

Hm. Rules of Behavior.
















Whatever. Not reading them any more than I’m reading the 57-page Terms and Conditions for updating to crappy new iOS7 on my phone.

Next up: a form where I’m asked to enter my full legal name (if you have a suffix bigger than “V” you’re out of luck), Social Security Number, gender, date of birth, address, phone number, email address, language preferences — can’t they get this stuff from the NSA? — and my consent to a General Privacy Attestation (the DMV? really?).









But if I were blind, I couldn’t read the notice…

Next: some freaky Facebook-style (after you get locked out) identity verification questions that prove they already know all about you.