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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Obamacare Glitch - A Preventable Political Glitch

Obamacare has already helped untold numbers of people who clearly have benefited from the insurance reforms mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Although the regrettable website fiasco, beginning October 1st, and the insurance exchange sign on glitches should've been foreseen, the "tempest in a tea pot" about the website problems are overactive political rhetoric. 

But they were preventable.

Obviously, the Obama administration deserves blame for this problem. Administration officials should've gone overboard to guarantee that the landmark moment of the Affordable Care Act, the day when people could really sign up for health insurance, would be a resounding success. Instead, the momentous occasion turned into political fodder. 

It's just beyond me to explain how the administration didn't see this coming. They've had four years to prepare.

Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor writes the following:

"Right now the troubled HealthCare.gov site can’t handle more than 20,000 to 30,000 users at a time, according to Washington Post reporters Amy Goldstein, Juliet Eilperin, and Lena H. Sun. That’s about half its intended capacity.So what’s going on here? Is this a big deal, or a tempest in a tea cup (green loose leaf, hold the milk and sugar)? We’d say its importantish. Missing the deadline could cause big political problems for the White House", he writes.

Grier is correct but he misses an important point. Missing the deadline is a much bigger problem than a political miscue. Instead, it's fiscally irresponsible. What's important about the missed deadline is the old sales slogan about "closing a deal". Obamacare must sign on healthy people and God only knows how many frustrated website tries were attempted by those who don't have pre-existing conditions. Obviously, unknown numbers of people said, "Oh, what the ...&^%, I've been without health insurance this long, who cares?"  (Ouch, a lost sale!) 

Of course, missing the deadline is rather meaningless this early on in the process, so long as people who want health insurance can eventually access the website and buy a plan. The problem is, those who procastinate are likely the healthy people who aren't necessarily driven to have health insurance to cover pre-existinng conditions.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration is so defensive about this website debacle that they've lost sight of the proverbial forest through the trees. In fact, the Obamacare plan is already in place for millions of people who are benefiting from the following reforms:

1.  Children are covered under their parents plan until 26 years of age.
2.  Pre-existing conditions are now covered by insurers
3.  Children are covered by their parent health  insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions.
4.  Health insurance companies must demonstrate how they use premiums to pay for your coverage or provide a refund.
5.  Donut hole in Medicare Part D plan is fixed saving Senior Citizens money.
6.  Wellness care and mammograms are covered.
7.  States where the Medicaid expansion is in place are now offering every qualified person in their population access to coverage for health care. this coverage is provided through private insurance, Medicare, health exchanges or expanded Medicaid. Many states opted out of the expansion, but those where this is in place have improved access to health care for everyone who qualifies.

Americans can't go backwards on the above reforms, the Medicaid expansion notwithstanding. Although the Medicaid expansion is an interim reform, put in place to help people access private health insurance, the temporary coverage will provide a bridge for many adults who might be between the ages of 63-65 and waiting for their Medicare eligibility to be available.

Obsessive complainers like Sarah Palin, Senator (25 percent of Texas without health insurance) Cruz, Senator Rand (health insurance coverage paid by tax payers) Paul and other right wingers have nothing to offer in place of Obamacare. They should tell Americans what alternative is available, if they intend to replace the Affordable Care Act. In fact, none of them offer any alternative. They just whine and make noise. (Unfortunately, hearing aides are not covered under any insurance plan.)

Although the Obmacare roll out should have been a moment of triumph, the  fact is, the preventable website glitches will be worked out over time. People will eventually be able to sign on, in spite of Republican over reaction to the website failures.

Regrettably, the Obamacare sign on problem is fiscal rather than political. Healthy people who are so physically fit they don't have time to waste trying to access the failed website may choose to pay penalties rather than attempt to get coverage. If this increasingly likely situation grows, the coverage guaranteed under the insurance exchanges will be in jeopardy. Shame on the Obama administration for missing the opportunity to, once and for all, put all Obamacare "naysayers" out to pasture.  

Perhaps the biggest glitch with the failed Obamacare insurance exchange roll out is how it gave oxygen to right wingers, like Sarah Palin, who now has her whining voice back on prime time television. Groan.

Now, Republicans are having their "we told you so" moment. This roll out glitch was totally preventable, but now we must listen to this tempest in a tea pot rhetoric, until the water cools down.

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