HealthCare.Gov: First Impressions

I recently met with a client who is in the process of developing a new store. Originally the store was expected to open during the first week of November. Though plugging away at construction the business owner is focused on quality and as such he has decided to postpone the date of the grand opening. During our conversation he told me, “We have to push it back. I mean, could we open it next week? Sure. But I understand that first impressions are everything and I want everything to be held at a really high standard so that when people first visit, they know they’ll never go anywhere else.” This is what I love about small business owners. They’re so invested in what they do and they take so much pride in their product. Their livelihood depends on them being the best.

Now, compare that to the public sector. The controversial healthcare overhaul has gone from Nancy Pelosi’s infamous “We have to pass it to know what’s in it,” all the way to the launch of HealthCare.Gov and the glitches which have been (more than not) minimized by the Obama administration.

But strip away all of the politics. For just a moment try to forget about what the widely debated “Obamacare” will or will not do. Forget about how we’re going to pay for it, whether or not it will be sustainable, and whether or not it will actually be effective. For just one moment, try to filter this system of healthcare through the perspective of the small business owner as I have illustrated above.

The small business owner understands the power of first impressions.

HealthCare.Gov opened (seemingly) putting the cart before the horse. Criticisms of site performance (from both sides) have dominated the week’s news cycle. The line given by the administration is that HealthCare.Gov, like Apple’s newest operating system, simply has some bugs that need to be worked out.

It’s an easy line to sell, but I hardly think it genuine. The truth is that Apple is an established company known for making quality products. When a glitch occurs Apple’s response is timely and diligent. As a result consumers continue to buy Apple products – extending grace when complications arise and seeing enough value in the product that those instances haven’t outweighed the good.

But if you’re honest with yourself, when in recent memory (if ever) have you used the words “quality” or even “efficient” when it comes to the federal government? It doesn’t exactly have the same track record or history of success as say, Apple, does it?

And it certainly doesn’t share the same concerns as my client who knows that a negative first impression could mean the eventual decline of his business, leaving him without the financial stability to pay the bills, and the ability to live his best scenario life. In fact, we’ve put up with negative impressions of government for as long as I can remember, and even though it sometimes leaves a bad taste in our mouths, opting out of it is nearly impossible.

For the business owner every important decision is treated with a “life or death” mentality. Yet, our government, who has literally gone into the business of life and death, have already shown that their concern for first impressions do not run quite as deep.

Perhaps this insurance thing should have been left to the business owners all along.

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Joe Ruiz

Joe Ruiz is a writer, political aficionado, pop culture enthusiast, pro-wrestling smark, MBA graduate, former US Congressional candidate, ukulele tinkerer, Puerto Rican / American, Freemason, marketing guy, podcaster, and family man. He currently hosts The CAP (Culture & Arts Podcast) and is the Managing Editor at We Are Libertarians.

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