At least Medicare works most of the time.
In Baker County, where almost one in four residents is 65 or older, that federal health insurance program is more important than in most other places, where the population is younger.
Medicare seems a paragon of governmental efficiency compared with Cover Oregon, the state's new health insurance exchange that's supposed to help Oregonians who aren't eligible for Medicare or another program.
"Supposed to" is the key phrase here, because Cover Oregon is working about as well as a car engine does with half its pistons removed.
And to belabor the automotive analogies, the latest advice from Cover Oregon's interim director, Bruce Goldberg, is tantamount to a Chevrolet dealer telling a prospective customer that he's better off heading across town to the Ford outlet.
Earlier this week Goldberg acknowledged that because of Cover Oregon's inability to process applications - a task being done manually because the organization's website is dysfunctional - thousands of applicants will need to buy insurance elsewhere if they want to avoid going without coverage until Cover Oregon can get its act together.
Merry Christmas, indeed.
It's hard to imagine Cover Oregon having a more disappointing debut. We hope the new year brings a new level of competence to a program that a lot of people are depending on.