How do you get your arms around the catastrophe known as Obamacare? Is it even possible?
At this point, I’m not sure it is. The list of individual disasters which threaten to ruin one-sixth of the U.S. economy and what has been, up until now, the best healthcare system in the world is exhaustive, and exhausting.
The examples I will identify here barely scratch the surface.
First but by no means foremost, we have the supposedly new and improved HealthCare.gov. Except it’s not, even the visible part. Stories still abound of people still failing to get in or to get through the enrollment process.
But that’s okay, because nobody with any expectation of privacy should be using the web site anyway. A well-known “white hat hacker” (i.e., one of the good guys) told CNBC and the Washington Free Beacon that its security exposure is even greater now than when the site debuted on October 1. The situation is so embarrassing that the White House won’t even brief Congress, which last time I checked was supposed to oversee executive branch activities. Meanwhile, the administration’s press lapdogs won’t even mention the word “security” in their web site reviews.
What consumers can see is bad enough. What they can’t see is far worse.
The transmission of enrollment data from HealthCare.gov to participating insurance companies is so botched that “up to 30 percent of the people who have enrolled on healthcare.gov only think they have enrolled.” Starting on January 1, barring some kind of miracle, those affected who go to their doctors are “going to find out the hard way that their attempted enrollment failed and they don’t actually have coverage.”
Then there’s the fact that “the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not yet finished building the part of the website that would transfer billions of dollars in subsidies for plan premiums and cost-sharing payments to insurance companies.” That characterization made by Reuters is far too kind. On November 19, Henry Chao, CMS’s deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told a House committee that “the payment systems, they still need be built.” At best, that would mean they’ve hardly started.
The “fix” for this complete lack of a system is something out of fairyland, and dumps a huge, unplanned workload on participating insurance companies:
Health plans will estimate how much they are owed, and submit that estimate to the government. Once the system is built, the government and insurers can reconcile the payments made with the plan data to “true up” payments …
Imagine the hours upon hours of bickering we’ll see between government bureaucrats and insurance company officials before, or if, this gets resolved. No one can possibly believe that the Obama administration won’t capitalize on this new opportunity to bully the industry it loves to hate. (Aside: I wonder how the folks in the insurance business who salivated over “all those new customers” they would gain feel about being in bed with Team Obama now?)