In less than one week, open enrollment begins for ObamaCare. The Administration has made its launch lists and contingency plans –and is checking them twice. They don’t want to repeat last year’s rollout which was all naughty, not nice.

Let’s rewind to fall 2013. The President, his colleagues in Congress, and supporters were preparing for the launch of the government’s biggest expansion of power in decades: ObamaCare. Every TV channel, news site, and news source was covering what was promised to be the answer to our healthcare woes.

The President waited like Santa to hop into his Airforce One sleigh and traverse the country delivering healthcare to all. ObamaCare navigators feverishly worked from their federally-funded workshops to set up information centers and phone lines in preparation for an onslaught of new applicants. For months prior, word spread that the President’s signature reform plan would change America –forever.  And then October 1st hit.

The website crashed immediately as hundreds of thousands of Americans who landed at the site found an error message, couldn’t get a functional page, or had their applications kicked out. The errors and dysfunction lasted not for hours, days or weeks, but months. So did the state healthcare websites that suffered the same fate as Once again, Americans were reminded that when government tries to innovate, we don’t get Google or Apple. We get the registry of motor vehicles and the post office.

This year, the Administration has been silent about open enrollment. Pushed back until a week after the midterm elections, is set to take online applications on November 15, during the weekend. Don't expect big media blitzes and splashy public relations campaigns to draw attention. At this point they are crossing their fingers that when current customers return to re-enroll or new applicants browse plans, the site will be functional.

The Washington Post reports:

 “We’re really making sure that that Web site works super well,” President Obama said at a news conference a few days ago. “We’re double- and triple-checking it.”

Despite such efforts, the confidential documents written in recent weeks hint at elaborate backup planning that undercuts the administration’s predictions that an improved will be able to handle everyone who wants to sign up. More broadly, they reflect the high stakes confronting the administration as it tries to avoid last year’s mistakes and deal with new threats to the Affordable Care Act: the Republican gains in the midterm elections and the Supreme Court’s decision to review the government insurance subsidies that are a linchpin of the law.

One document from late October, for instance, describes a new system known as “throttling,” which will be deployed if the number of people trying to use at the same time strains the Web site’s enlarged capacity.

Other confidential CMS documents show that federal health officials drafted contingency plans involving notices for people who have insurance through the exchanges. The notices provide important information, such as whether enrollees appear eligible for federal subsidies for the coming year.

The notices were supposed to be in consumers’ hands by Nov. 1. But by the third week of October, a document says, fewer than 1 million of 7.6 million notices were ready to be mailed or e-mailed…

Meanwhile, another October document says that insurers will continue to test a new part of for small businesses — not ready last year — for about a month after enrollment gets underway. Andy Slavitt, CMS principal deputy administrator, said that parts of the small-business exchange, known as SHOP, that must be ready by Nov. 15 will be checked enough by then, while testing will continue on other aspects, such as the system’s ability to relay certain premium information back to employers.

For their part, top federal health officials are straddling a line, working to build public confidence without overpromising. The system “will be very, very good,” Slavitt said in an interview. “I won’t commit to perfection. . . . The one thing I can predict is we didn’t think of everything. . . . It will continue to improve along the way.”

The President saw his approval rating plummet after the crash and burn of last year and given how low his current approval rating is, he can’t afford to take any more hits – especially facing a new, Republican-controlled Congress that plans to take down ObamaCare.

This time it’s not about making a splash but managing expectations. Comments from government officials even hint that while they have confidence in the website, they are admitting there still may be issues. As we know, they’ve hired an army of techies from Silicon Valley who actually know what they’re doing and have fired some of the IT contractors responsible for the original website, but will that be enough?

It was sad to watch the ineptitude and finger-pointing that ensued as federal and state officials tried to distance themselves from a plan they had wholeheartedly embraced and thought they would ride back to victory on a year later. (We know what happened last week instead).

Even if this week’s open enrollment goes well and the website doesn’t crash. The technical aspect of ObamaCare is still just the icing on what is a mess. There are fundamental problems with ObamaCare that have nothing to do with a website: high prices of the plans and the need for taxpayers to subsidize costs for 80% of enrollees; the limited networks of doctors and healthcare providers; the rising costs that insurers face as they are legally required to cover new services; the personal mandate that taxes people with no coverage; the employer mandate that penalizes companies which don’t provide coverage to employees causing them to forgo hiring, cut back worker hours, and delay growth; and the overall distortion to the healthcare market.

If open enrollment fails once again, it won't be a good time for President Obama. It will be another humbug holiday season.