Telework, Obamacare and IT management

There are two types of teleworkers: those who work primarily for a single employer (company, government, NGO, etc.) and those who are largely self employed. For those current or potential teleworkers who are considering a move to the ranks of the self employed the healthcare problem can be a serious barrier to the move. It can be an anxiety-producing experience to think about leaving an employer who provides a good health plan, particularly if you have a family to worry about. Raise your hand if you’re a would-be independent teleworker who’s hesitating because of healthcare concerns.

Relax. Obamacare, the silver bullet, is here — sort of. You now can be in the position where the healthcare issue is no longer an impediment to your entrepreneurial spirit. You can work from, or near, home, regain control of your life, watch your family grow up, reduce your stress levels and maybe even live longer.

If you can get signed up for Obamacare (also known as the Affordable Care Act or ACA).

Today is the day President Obama promised significant improvements to show up for the federal on-line ACA signup process. Much has been made in the press lately about the “disaster” of Obamacare because of the glitches in the on-line signup via the federal website. In this era of instant gratification many people are (reportedly) upset that it takes so long to sign up. “Why isn’t it like buying something on Amazon?” they ask. Well, have you ever tried to buy health insurance on Amazon? Getting health insurance is a complex process in the best of times, even if your employer has done most of the legwork for you. Expect a few hours of tedium and red tape. If you live in one of the states, like California, that actually prepared for this, the signup process seems to be doing very well. If you live in one of the states that consistently resisted the ACA it’ll take a little longer to outflank your own government.

This is not to say that the federal website was well designed in the first place. It clearly wasn’t. As a former rocket scientist and systems engineer I was appalled at the apparent mis-management of the healthcare.gov development process. For a similar, and much more detailed, view of the situation see Clay Shirky’s blog (for even more see Eric Knorr’s comments). So the initial appearance of healthcare.gov seems to have been an alpha version (not releasable to the general public). Today’s version may reach beta status. Meanwhile, there’s always the alternative (gasp) of signing up face-to-face with an insurance broker.

Despite the initial problems, progress is being made. Obamacare may even serve as an important facilitator of telework. Stay tuned.

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