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Capitol Comment

Five Things That Were Still Awesome When America Invented Health Exchanges

So, I bet you didn't know, that despite the two-week-long quagmire of failure the Obama Administration has stumbled in to regarding the health care exchange websites, American insurance companies actually invented - and perfected - online, high volume, health care exchanges in 1998


Basically, while you were still IMing away to everyone on your buddy list and downloading the latest hits off of Napster, half a dozen companies in the private sector were busily making heath insurance much easier to buy. Of course, this begs the question as to whether the Obama Administration has ever seen the Internet - an event not everyone can officially corroborate - and whether any technological geniuses in HHS were willing to ask a couple of pointed questions of people who'd done the work before. But we already know all that. Let's get to the good stuff: the things that were still awesome when electronic health insurance marketplaces were first ramping up.

1. America Online

If you could manage to get your mom to hang up the phone long enough to get past the dialup screen, you could chat with your friends all night about nothing at all.


2. The Spice Girls

1998 was the beginning and the end of the pond-hopping 90s girl group. By the end of the year Geri Halliwell ("Ginger Spice") would leave to pursue a solo project that is unidentifiable in hindsight. 

3. Titanic

Admit it. You saw it 17 times in the theater, cried every time, and until the advent of Pinterest, never realized that two people could fit on that floating door. 1998 launched the unsinkable ship, Leonardo DiCaprio's career, and an unfortunate Celine Dion song that has made elevators less enjoyable for the better part of two decades.

4. Seinfeld

Technically, in 1998, Seinfeld was still on the air - at least for half the year. The Seinfeld cast said goodbye in May of 1998 and the Cheers spinoff, Frasier, took its place as the top television show of the year.

5. The first President Clinton

We may all be girding our loins for the next go-round with Hillary in 2016, but in 1998, the first Clinton Administration was nearing its end. In 1998, Bill Clinton was impeached but not removed from office, potentially because we were all terrified of what would happen to us under President Al Gore. 

BONUS: Furby.

I didn't want to have to do this to you, but since we're already talking about comebacks, because as a nation we are obsessed with movie sequels and nostalgia for our youth, there's at least one other major item from 1998 that has resurfaced alongside the technology to run a health insurance website and a secondary Clinton: the Furby.

I had one of these, hated it, and in order to "kill it," put it in the basement storage areas, where apparently, it merely waited out an entire decade before trying to start a conversation with my mother when she walked in to get a soup tureen. And still, as terrifying as that is, it's still not as terrifying as knowing that your government hasn't progressed beyond technology that was concurrent with these terrifying mecha-beasts.