…[M]onths after the federal exchange finally limped into production, about half the state-run exchanges “remain dysfunctional, disabled, or severely underperforming.” This, even though we have spent almost twice as much on building exchanges for 14 states and the District of Columbia as we did on the federal exchange, which covers the residents of the other states.
If the red states had built their own exchanges, many of them would likely also suffer the same problems — or worse ones, given that red-state governors lacked the enthusiasm of their blue-state counterparts. Naturally, this raises some questions. What if the administration’s supporters who complained about red-state intransigence had it backward? What if the mistake was allowing states to do a job that we should have left to the federal government?
…So should Congress have simply had the federal government build the exchanges and be done with it?
Megan McArdle answers:
Actually, no. The architecture of the law allowed for some failures. But it also enshrined two important principles for failing well: experimentation and diversification.