The White House hasn't hit the far side of the Obamacare learning curve yet.
After meeting its first-year enrollment targets practically in spite of itself, the administration is looking at a year two in which success won't simply be a matter of replicating year one. The Obamacare landscape is already changing in big and sometimes unexpected ways, making the law's next open-enrollment period — the second of three intended to collectively expand health care coverage to some 26 million uninsured Americans — a different kind of challenge, but not necessarily a lesser one.
For starters, the administration will have half as much time to meet its second-year targets. The 2015 open-enrollment period, which has been delayed until after the November midterms, is just three months long. This year's was six months, and the administration needed every minute of it (plus a short extension).
To be sure, the first two months of the 2014 open-enrollment period were lost to the disaster that was HealthCare.gov, and, theoretically, that won't happen again — which should help. (Although, theoretically, it shouldn't have happened the first time.)
"Hopefully, one big difference the second time around will be a working website from day one," says Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation. "Long term, one would like to see improvements in the shopping process as well, though I'm not optimistic they have time to make many changes and test them for this next year."