Politics

The Affordable Chaos Act

The Affordable Chaos Act

Sooner or later, the electronic glitches and system failures in ObamaCare will be worked out.  Every data processing problem can be solved eventually, with the application of enough time and money.  We’ll probably have to wait until the inevitable House Oversight hearings to find out how exactly how much money was spent creating and “fixing” the ObamaCare exchanges, and who got it all.

ObamaCare apologists haven’t quite gotten around to telling us to just sit tight and wait for the bugs to get worked out.  Oh, they say things like that, particularly in official statements from the Department of Health and Human Services and 404 Errors, but they haven’t quite got the nerve to imply that people are being unreasonably impatient for noticing the massive system failures.  Actually, more than a few people on the Left have begun muttering that a delay in the individual mandate will be necessary, because otherwise the Sainted Middle Class will get socked with tax/penalties for failure to comply with a system they couldn’t log into.  If that’s how it shakes out, then – to borrow a phrase currently in vogue among Democrats – Barack Obama and Harry Reid will have “shut down the government for nothing.”

Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner writes that Heatlhcare.gov’s problems run much deeper than a buggy interface or comical inability to cope with the modest web traffic the system has experienced thus far, reminding us once again that one of the most intractable problems was inserted by design, because the ObamaCare commissars are terrified of letting Americans know what these health care plans are really going to cost:

As originally envisioned, Healthcare.gov (which serves the residents of 36 states) was supposed to enable individuals to shop for health insurance starting Oct. 1, 2013, just as they would shop for airline tickets on Orbitz.

But unlike Orbitz, Healthcare.gov makes consumers seeking information on their available choices go through a multi-step process to create an account and then log in and enter personal information.

Administration officials imposed these extra steps because they didn’t want consumers to see the base price of the health insurance plans offered – which are inflated by new regulations – before the system could collect their income data and calculate what they’d pay in premiums after receiving government subsidies.

But wait, there’s more, as insurance companies report problems with even the “relatively small trickle of enrollments” they’re seeing:

Duplicate enrollments are a recurring issue. This means that the insurer is notified that somebody has enrolled in an insurance policy through the government exchange, but then receives another notice that the same person has un-enrolled, followed still later by another one that they re-enrolled, and so on.

As of now, it’s unclear whether this duplication problem is triggered by a failure in the way Healthcare.gov interacts with the systems of insurers, or if shoppers on the federal exchange are enrolling and un-enrolling themselves as they go through the selection process. Insurers can’t ascertain the ultimate choice of the shopper because there are no time stamps attached to transactions on the site.

Other potential challenges involve whether the website will be able to properly communicate with a massive federal data hub to verify applicants’ income accurately, calculate subsidies they may be entitled to under the law, and display the correct plan price.

There’s also a question of whether the federal website is properly displaying information about plan deductibles, co-payments, and benefits.

That sounds wonderful.  You won’t know if you’ve actually got insurance, you won’t know what it really costs, you might make a purchasing decision based on improperly-calculated subsidies (welcome to welfare dependency, middle class!) and your already imposing co-payments might be much higher, should you actually dare to use your new “benefits.”

You might get an even worse surprise when you find out you can’t use your longtime physician any more, because the Affordable Care Act’s crapware can’t even give people a straight answer about that.  The New York Times brings us the tale of Kenny Wheeler, who actually managed to get past the storm of bugs and glitches to log into the exchange website…

But when he tried to find out whether two health plans he liked would pay for his medications or let him keep his current doctors, he could not.

He called one doctor on the spot, but the receptionist could not tell him whether the practice was in the new plan networks. Nor could Mr. Wheeler, 61, get quick answers from the insurers themselves. Exasperated, he put off completing his application.

Mr. Wheeler is not an isolated case of glitchitude:

At this stage, even many doctors are uncertain about whether they are contracted with exchange plans from state to state because the plans — and even some of the insurers — are so new.

“I’ve had to do all this legwork on my own,” Mr. Wheeler said.

Ellen Boyd, 62, of Torrington, Conn., said she had tried to check whether her doctors were in a plan offered on her state’s exchange by clicking a link that took her to the insurer’s Web site. But it appeared that she had to go ahead and buy a plan before being able to check which providers were in its network, she said.

“I thought I would be able to go to the Web site and pop in a name and get a yes or no answer,” said Ms. Boyd, who has osteoporosis and ulcerative colitis and wants to stick with her current doctors. “It makes your hair hurt, I’ll tell you.”

Now, is hurting hair covered under the gold, silver, or platinum ObamaCare plan?  It’s all so confusing.

While you’re busy trying to manage the ObamaCare bug swarm and figure out if you can still get the medicine you need to live, you’ll also enjoy worrying about electronic fraud and theft.  The first scam reports are coming in from Tennessee, as related by Watchdog.org:

Reports are emerging that shysters are using Tennessee residents’ relative lack of knowledge about the new health care law to defraud them.

Scam artists, for example, are making calls claiming they need Social Security numbers to sign people up for a new ObamaCare insurance card, according to a statement from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

“We’ve been made aware of one scam, in particular,” said TDCI spokeswoman Kate Abernathy.

“One of our navigator agencies let us know that there was an individual calling people saying that he or she could have walked him through the application process for $100 for a navigator certified application counselor service, but that information is completely incorrect. That is a free service that is supposed to remain free.”

That report comes to us via Fox News, which also passes along the Weekly Standard’s uneasy discovery of text in the Heathcare.gov source code that warns users they have “no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transiting or stored in this information system.”  Unfortunately, users can’t actually see this warning – it’s buried in the code.  Maybe it will come up the first time an identity-theft victim tries to sue the Department of Health and Human Services for making him vulnerable.

We’ll be told not to worry about, or remember, all this stuff when the major problems get hammered out.  All’s well that end’s well, right?  Wrong.  It’s not OK that this system costs far more than its original estimates, and performs far beneath its promises.  It’s not OK that chaos will erupt when people try to start using their new insurance plans.  It’s not acceptable that American citizens have to waste thousands of man-hours wrestling with sloppy, crash-prone web sites, or figuring out which doctor they’re allowed to use.

The same federal government that freaked out during the partial shutdown, and ensured every employee was made whole with back pay, doesn’t seem to place any value on the time of hard-working private-sector Americans, does it?

Update: Maybe that disclaimer about “no reasonable expectation of privacy” was part of the code ObamaCare’s commissars allegedly stole without proper copyright acknowledgement.  Your money-no-object hyper-regulatory mega-government at work!

Update: Remember that a lot of the people wasting valuable time in this maelstrom of confusion and incompetence used to have health care plans they were perfectly happy with, and which they thought they would be allowed to keep, because Barack Obama explicitly told them so.

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