January 31, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: The Accidental Navigator: It takes a lot to get health insurance in Maryland.

The Washington Post entertainingly debunks an ObamaCare “success story” proffered by Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland. “Thanks to the ACA, Ms. [Lorita] Waltz was able to sign up for a quality plan that meets her health care needs and fits into her family’s budget,” Edwards announced in a press release. Edwards invited Waltz as her guest to the State of the Union address because, the lawmaker told the Post, “I’m just really excited about our health-care system.”

But this turns out to be more of a rescue than a success story. Way back in October, Waltz’s husband had tried and failed to log in to the Maryland exchange. “He would periodically try to log in without success, but given that the family has coverage until the end of January, Waltz said they were not worried,” the Post reports. This being the last week in January, they finally got worried.

The family was too late to avoid a lapse in coverage–they’ll “go without insurance in February”–but Waltz is pleased with the outcome: “Today, we had success,” she told the Post in a Tuesday interview at Edwards’s office.

One has to wonder if Edwards’s touting this as an ObamaCare success story isn’t meant as a bit of a humblebrag. After all, the story speaks well of Edwards, who comes across as a diligent practitioner of constituent service. But if Waltz’s experience is typical–if large numbers of consumers are still unable to buy insurance without the intervention of their congressman’s and governor’s office–it suggests ObamaCare is deeply troubled if not failing.

Well, a complicated system that requires a congressman’s help to navigate ensures you’ll appreciate your congressman. So, a success!