Stayin' Alive

Megan McArdle has the question of the year regarding those folks who simply must sign up at for the rickey system not to become a total shambles:

Will they pay?

That, folks, is the trillion-dollar question. The answer is unclear:

We couldn’t tell even if we wanted to, because the part of the website that pays insurers still hasn’t been built yet. In fact, while the part that serves consumers is working much better, the part that sends the information to insurers is still having a lot of problems. So even if we knew how many consumers intended to actually enroll in, and pay for, a policy, we wouldn’t know how many of them would actually have an insurance policy come Jan. 1.

Which sums up all of our information about the site, broadly: We don’t know, because the administration doesn’t really have the information we want or any way to get it. It’s clearly choosing the most optimistic metrics possible while ignoring more obvious ones. But even the more obvious ones wouldn’t tell us what we really want to know, which is: Come Jan. 1, or April 1, how many people in the U.S. will have insurance?

That’s a lot of questions without answers, but I can at least provide a little perspective.

Jan. 1 is four weeks from now. The time from Jan. 1 to April 1 is only a few weeks longer than the time from Oct. 1, when was disastrously launched, to the end of the open enrollment period.

So Ezra Klein can’t cheerlead all he likes about how “ is improving, and fast,” but something tells me he’ll be back in Bed Wetting Mode before April.