What does Capital Bikeshare have to do with Obamacare?

Today is the one-month anniversary of the Obamacare health exchanges, and while it has not been a smooth rollout, the exchanges are already helping a million citizens sign up for private coverage, who represent about 2 million Americans in those plans. Millions more are signing up for the Medicaid expansion.

Clearly the federal government and states were not prepared for the overwhelming demand for affordable health care. Whether a flood of customers, which reveals underlying issues, is a success, failure, or somewhere in between greatly depends on your point of view.

For instance, Capital Bikeshare — DC’s system of shared bicycles and stations — is highly regarded even though it’s struggling to meet the demand. I recently moved to a location where bikeshare made sense, so I bought a membership. Unfortunately, there is never a bike available in the morning when I want to leave my house (and I’m not alone). My solution is to work from home until an app tells me a bike is finally available. These “headaches” are comparable to users having to sign up on Obamacare late at night when few users are hitting the system.

Of course, the comparison isn’t perfect. Capital bikeshare didn’t have to serve bikes region-wide starting on October 1st. And Obamacare’s failures go beyond a tsunami of demand. That said, it’s a fine line between the success of Capital Bikeshare and the glitches of Obamacare.

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