Obamacare: Single-Payer, Here We Come
A CNBC story on August 15 headlined how "Obamacare is coming, and so are the con artists."
While scamsters will certainly have their day with low-information consumers if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act goes into effect, the story didn't identify the law's primary con artists, namely Barack Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and hardened leftists who still support this monstrosity.
It is becoming more obvious with virtually each passing day that those who wrote and those who are implementing Obamacare are intent on ultimately creating an entirely government-run and government-controlled "single-payer" enterprise.
Congress passed Obamacare 41 long months ago. Almost no one read its hundreds of thousands of words spread over 2,000-plus double-spaced pages. Even fewer understood it. Two weeks before its passage, Nancy Pelosi infamously said: "We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it."
Kathleen Sebelius's Department of Health and Human Services has had almost 3-1/2 years to figure out what is in it, and to build the mechanisms necessary to make it work smoothly. In the process of trying, HHS has generated over 30,000 pages of regulations -- as of a few months ago.
Though you really can't in the real world, for the sake of this column let's set aside the painfully valid issues of potentially widespread privacy violations, the inadequate training of and lack of quality control over the "navigators" who are supposed to help people through the maze, the legally questionable delays of many of the law's major provisions, and the economically disastrous effect of the law's definition of a full-time employee as someone who works 30 or more hours per week.
Let's merely look at the nuts and bolts of how the enrollment process will apparently work. Based on my recent test drive, the answer is "not well at all."
My journey began late last week at finder.healthcare.gov.
The fine print there says that "this is not the Health Insurance Marketplace. It's a site that identifies some plans that are available to you right now, before the Marketplace opens for business."
Okay, I get that. But it's still a window into how well or poorly the enrollment process will operate once the Health Insurance Marketplace is in place. That window is ugly.
Right off the bat, there's an obvious problem in Step 1:
You can only select one of the eight items listed above in Question 2. What do you do if you're a self-employed pregnant woman with a medical condition? Heck if I or anyone else knows.
I moved on as a healthy individual in Ohio to the next step, which was uneventful until the last question:
Huh? Few will give a "No" answer to that question, which appears to be there for the sole purpose of gathering political ammunition. You can't move on without answering that question.
The next screen told me that I had three options I "should look into." I selected "Health Insurance Plans for Individuals & Families."
The next screen asked for zip code, date of birth, whether I use tobacco (you knew that was coming), and when I wanted coverage to begin.
I selected November 1, 2013. The search returned "zero plans." I then selected October 1, 2013. Again, no results. More on that later.
I went back and selected September 30, the day before Obamacare enrollment begins. That search returned 101 plans.
Nowhere was I told that I must have health insurance starting January 1, 2014, or face financial consequences. Elsewhere at Healthcare.gov, but not directly accessible from the enrollment model, one learns that if you don't have health insurance next year, you must pay a "fee" of "1% of your yearly income or $95 per person for the year, whichever is higher." The "fee" increases in subsequent years.
This "fee" is what Chief Justice John Roberts called a "tax." The law itself calls it a "penalty." HHS won't even give users who do conscientious research the truth.
As to the effective date problem encountered above, I spent a half-hour on the phone with a representative at HHS's toll-free line trying to get an explanation. He was unable to even locate finder.healthcare.gov from his computer. I still don't know whether it's because his access was limited or because he didn't know how to directly type a web address into a browser window.
I wasn't able to "resolve" the problem until I called the provider for one of the private plans returned in the results. Their representative was intrigued by how I came to call her, and I took her to finder.healthcare.gov. She also characterized several of its questions as ridiculous.
Quite to my surprise, the private plan representative told me that individuals and families can sign up for private coverage any time between now and the end of the year, and that doing so (as long as premiums are paid, of course) avoids the need to enroll in Obamacare until one year from the policy's start date.
She further cautioned that the insurance plan's year has to begin within 60 days of when one contracts to purchase coverage. Thus, those who wish to stay away from Obamacare as long as they possibly can should wait until October to purchase coverage which will begin in December, thereby avoiding having to deal with the Health Insurance Marketplace until December 2014.
Yet, as I noted earlier, finder.healthcare.gov won't accept a start date later than September 30, and provides no guidance or any kind of recognition that the market for private individual and family plans will be around until the end of the year.
Why? That should be obvious. It's an anti-competitive move designed to give the impression that the "Health Insurance Marketplace" and its high-cost, Obamacare-driven framework will be the only place one can obtain insurance starting on October 1.
That's simply not true.
No other scenario other than the idea of foisting single-payer on everyone suffices to explain the breathtaking lack of planning, the mismanagement, the utter lack of fundamental controls, and, as just seen, the anticompetitive posture taken in Obamacare's attempted implementation.
What happens if, or really when, it all falls apart? The government, having demonized or driven out everyone else who might be in a position to assist, will complete the biggest con of all, pretending that it's the only institution left which can repair the damage — by taking over the whole thing. Single-payer, here we come.
If Congress doesn't defund this disaster, and quickly, that is the most likely scenario we face.