The result seemed strange to Maureen Bardusk of Galena, Ill., who’s hesitant about giving her personal information before she can shop.
“I’m reluctant to give information so it can be tracked when I’m simply looking for information,” said Bardusk, who’s looking to replace expensive temporary coverage she’s had since her husband was laid off in June.
“I don’t want to be part of a marketing scheme,” she added. “I assume they set it up that way so they could see who’s coming in, how many times they come in and what they buy after they get there...but that isn’t really customer-oriented.”
Colorado, one of the states that designed its own market, made a deliberate decision to allow window-shopping, the opposite of what the feds decided.
Officials didn’t want to “spook” consumers, said Gary Schneider, IT program manager for Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s marketplace. “We were trying to be less intrusive and create a more consumer-friendly experience.” Consumers are allowed to set up their accounts after they’ve narrowed their options.
Window-shopping is the norm at most e-commerce sites. Consumers can shop online for books at Amazon, flights at Travelocity, hotel stays at Hotwire and staples at Staples — all without creating an account or registering. The sites ask for personal information only when customers say they are ready to check out.
The Obama administration says government technical experts are on their way to solving the accounts creation problem. Independent experts say other glitches may be lurking as the more complicated functions of the website come into play, including real-time verification of identity, legal residence, family composition and income.
“My suspicion is once they get these problems resolved, then we are going to the next layer, and that will expose new problems,” said Curtis, the software quality expert.
“Since this system was developed in a rush they did not have time to thoroughly test it,” he added. “The American people are now doing that for them.”
AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson reported from Chicago.