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Will Obamacare get its act together in time?

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So far, there’s no public information on how many people, if any, have successfully signed up for insurance via HealthCare.gov. Reporters desperate to find someone who had enrolled found 21-year-old Chad Henderson in Georgia, now enjoying his 15 minutes of fame. But his story fell apart after a Washington Post reporter tracked him down and interviewed him (with an assist from the libertarian site Reason.org).

Among the states that set up their own exchanges, there are some bright spots, foremost among them Kentucky and Connecticut. California and Colorado, too, are enrolling people, after some overloading issues. Maryland has had a lot of challenges. The system there is working, but it’s maddeningly slow, say people who visited the site.

None of the problems are shocking, and can be overcome, say management experts.

“I spend most of my time working with CIOs [chief information officers] of large enterprises, and when we look at something like this – the complexity of the different states and the pent-up energy and demand and ideas around signing up – it certainly wasn’t surprising that there were problems,” says Eric Johnson, dean of Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, in Nashville, Tenn.

The challenge, though, isn’t just getting HealthCare.gov and the other exchanges up to speed. It’s getting them to function smoothly soon enough to accommodate the flood of people who want to sign up for health insurance – with a possible federal subsidy – in time to start coverage on Jan. 1. To be covered on Jan. 1, one must enroll by Dec. 15. (The open enrollment period, though, goes all the way to March 31.)

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