Plight of the navigators
Further evidence that ObamaCare’s gruesome first-week enrollment numbers aren’t perking up enough to get anywhere near the 39,000 enrollments per day the system needs: an awful lot of those “navigators” are reporting zero, or minimal, success at convincing people to enroll.
A navigator in Colorado reported zero enrollments as the end of October loomed. ”Thus far everybody has taken a look at the rates, and they’ve walked out the door,” she said. ”There’s sticker shock. They just can’t afford it.” This from an area in which the number of uninsured is exceptionally high.
The same story was heard from navigators in Pennsylvania, where several people interviewed by Media Trackers reported they have not enrolled anyone themselves, but have heard urban legends of other navigators who maybe enrolled someone in October. Confidence was expressed that “we have a lot of people shopping right now.”
The stories of successful ObamaCare enrollment in Pennsylvania have the ring of Keyser Soze mythology – I know a guy who knows a guy whose sister has a roommate who’s dating a guy that says he enrolled somebody last week – but the people snotty Democrats dismissed as “red herrings” during Congressional hearings are very, very real. In the middle of the Media Trackers report, it is casually remarked that “Highmark, one of Pennsylvania’s largest health insurance companies, recently announced they will be discontinuing 180,000 health plans by the end of next year due to ObamaCare.” Then it’s back to tales of how all sorts of people are “very interested” in buying an ObamaCare policy, but nobody’s actually doing it yet.
Chalk up a goose egg for Oregon, too. The administrator of the Oregon Medical Insurance Pool hypothesized that some prospective ObamaCare customers “may be too sick to open mail, or to realize they must meet a deadline.”
“Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nil. None,” reports the Kansas branch of Watchdog.org, which was told by ObamaCare navigators that “because of continued problems with HealthCare.gov, so far they’ve enrolled exactly zero people into the new federal health care exchange that went live more than three weeks ago.” Some enrollments are said to be occurring through insurance companies in the state, but the navigators – trained with a $900,000 federal grant – have produced nothing. In fairness, one of them says he did get a single application to the final stage, “but then the system locked up on me.”
Two weeks into the ObamaCare fiasco, navigators in Nebraska were telling Watchdog they hadn’t signed anyone up, either. Representatives from two organizations blamed the inert website for many of their woes. There are whispered tales of one person getting “very close to success” – all the way to the verification stage! – before “some of the information they’d already entered didn’t pull through.”
Parenthetically, although it’s not directly related to the navigators, the experiences of accountant Todd Blome – one of the millions of people classified as a “red herring” by the Democrat Party, because his health insurance is being canceled in precisely the way Barack Obama repeatedly assured him would never, ever happen to anyone, anywhere, period – are illuminating, since he’s got prior experience with a private-sector online shopping system that actually worked:
Whereas he got his previous plan by shopping around on ehealthinsurance.com without having to divulge personal information first, on Healthcare.gov comparison shopping is the last step.
“This is so backwards and counterintuitive,” he said. “What other e-commerce site handles a product shopping and purchase experience like this?”
After two days of trying to log in to Healthcare.gov, he finally succeeded, but then was asked “a bunch of personal information,” including his Social Security number, email address, income and phone number.
“I’m not interested in the government’s full body cavity search so I entered some bogus information,” Blome said. “The page crashed when I clicked to go to the next screen.”
He wasn’t able to log in again the next day and after several days of trying he said, “I’m done trying.”
I hereby propose adding “I’m not interested in the government’s full body cavity search” to the Gadsden flag.
Blome took matters into his own hands, put the government’s glitch-tastic website in his rear-view mirror, and eventually discovered he’s got a choice between paying a 55 percent premium increase, or settling for a policy with “higher co-pays and much higher out-of-network costs.” Thanks, President Obama! Too bad there isn’t some sort of fabulously expensive “navigator” program that could have helped Mr. Blome with his insurance shopping while Trainwreck.gov was down.
Maybe part of the problem is that people are getting sent to some unlikely places in search of navigator assistance. The New York Post has a heartwarming tale of “health insurance with rainbow sprinkles:”
In yet another bungle for the botched government insurance rollout, the state Health Department has mistakenly listed numerous non-health-related business as enrollment sites — including a Brooklyn cupcake shop that has been besieged by callers.
“I have nothing to do with this,” said Carmen Rodriguez owner of Brooklyn Cupcake in Williamsburg. “I run a very busy establishment, and I’m like, what is going on?”
Because of the mistake, her bakery has gotten 150 calls from people seeking medical-insurance information.
“There has to be somebody who can help with ObamaCare; that’s their own mess,” she said.
Confused New Yorkers have also been directed to search for ObamaCare navigators at a limo service, an auto repair shop, a delicatessen, a skin care shop, a pharmacy, and a bakery where no one speaks English.
They might not be selling a lot of policies, but these navigators are harvesting plenty of information. John Fund at National Review offers a warning about where that data could end up going:
There is no federal requirement for background checks on navigators. It shouldn’t surprise anyone then that some people have found a way to form new “navigator” groups out of the ruins of ACORN, the notoriously corrupt left-wing “community organizing” group that saw dozens of its employees in multiple states convicted of fraud before and after the 2008 election. Fox News reported this month that the United Labor Unions Council Local 100 “was created by ACORN founder Wade Rathke after ACORN went bankrupt amidst widespread scandal.” The new group, which was reconstituted from old ACORN affiliates, has been accepted as part of the navigator program in several states.
“There is a real danger that Obamacare ‘navigators’ will harvest the data of applicants and use it outside of the context of the health exchanges,” says Bruce Webster, a leading IT consultant to private companies. “They couldn’t care less what plans you qualify for — but with sufficient personal information, they stand a much better chance of committing traditional identity theft on you. Or they might simply sell that information to those who will commit the actual identity theft.”
Another lively source of “navigators” is Planned Parenthood. Thank heavens, because they weren’t getting enough taxpayer money already, and we know they can be counted on to give women reliable advice without a shred of self-interested propaganda.
It’s clear from these navigator tales of hardship that the online exchange system – briefly portrayed as a nifty but non-essential special feature of ObamaCare by desperate left-wing apologists – is utterly crucial to every aspect of this massive scheme. Healthcare.gov’s failure is integral to ObamaCare’s failure. Nothing works without the website, which was launched despite cries of alarm from every single group, government and private, that tested it. Next, Americans will learn that ObamaCare doesn’t work even when the website is up, but that lesson has yet to begin, a month after Launch Day.