As the HealthCare.gov catastrophe enters its third week, three obvious facts have emerged:
● First, very few users can even get past creating a privacy-invading profile which shouldn’t be a necessary condition for shopping.
● Second, the vast majority of those who are getting in to explore their alternatives do not like what they see.
● Finally, the program’s useful idiot defenders won’t allow reality to intrude on their fantasies.
Take Tim Mullaney at USA Today. For the paper’s October 4th print edition, Mullaney excused users’ problems as “technical glitches likely to be gone by Thanksgiving” (i.e., almost two months after his column’s publication), and pronounced the web site “an out-of-the-box success for consumers shopping for health insurance.” In his view, “[T]he fundamentals (of) well-priced insurance, clearly explained … are in place.”
What kind of “well-priced” structure socks middle-aged married couples with $10,000-plus net premium increases for earning a single extra dollar of income? Answer: A structure which is so bad that it moved a San Francisco Chronicle financial advice columnist to suggest “working a bit less” to avoid losing a “huge subsidy.” Additionally, as I noted in late September, that “well-priced” structure will encourage married couples to divorce, and will deeply discourage future marriages.
As to “clearly explained,” the jury is still out, but my bet is that an awful lot of people won’t fully grasp how brutal the increases in deductibles present in so many Obamacare policies are compared to their old plans — you know, the ones about which Obama lied when he said they could keep them — until they actually have to use their new one.
Using Obamacare for medical services is on track to become extremely problematic. Insurance companies say that HealthCare.gov is not providing them with what they need to enroll the vast majority of individuals and families who believe they will have coverage in the plans they have selected. One report claims that as few as “1 in 100” enrollment applications have sufficient information. Insurance industry officials who apparently no longer fear the wrath of failed HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have revealed that “the backroom connection between the insurance companies and the federal government is a disaster.” One believes that fully sorting out the exchanges’ problems may take up to three years. If Obamacare were a private sector endeavor, the plug would have been pulled after three days.
Mullaney, who from what I can tell has made no visible attempt to amend his evaluation based on obviously damning subsequent events, is far from alone in his useful idiocy.
At the New York Times, Paul Krugman pronounced Obamacare a “success” based on one unidentified person he “talked to” in New Jersey who said she enrolled and “was very happy with the low cost.” Wow. We surrender, Paul.
Meanwhile, Times editor Bill Keller, in an item which appeared on Saturday, long after the pervasiveness of HealthCare.gov’s issues became widely known, decried “the frantic fictions of the right wing” and insisted that the web site’s failures only “confirm that there is enormous popular demand.”
As would be expected, many of the useful idiots work at the exchanges. In Oregon, reacting to complaints about steep premium increases, Cover Oregon spokesperson Michael Cox sang the praises of Dear Leader’s “new era of healthcare,” gave his TV interviewer the false impression that Obamacare plans generally have lower deductibles and higher benefits, and claimed that people concerned about costs have “options” and “choices,” and “can really shop around now.” Like Sebelius, who agreed with Jon Stewart that Obamacare is the industry’s “first mall,” Cox acted as if outfits like eHealthInsurance, which went live in 1998, have never existed.
As to the ability to shop around, while that could conceivably be the case in all of Oregon, that isn’t what Kaiser Health News found nationwide:
Kaiser Health News found a lack of competition in some pockets of the country. “Eighteen percent of counties have only one insurer offering plans and 33 percent of counties have only two insurers competing.”
No compilation of useful idiots would be complete without mentioning economists who still deny that Obamacare is leading to more part-time work. As of October 9, Investor’s Business Daily’s list of employers taking actions to reduce part-timers’ weekly hours below the Affordable Care Act’s “full-time” threshold of 30 or to otherwise restructure their workforces because of it was up to 331, and included many government entities. On October 10, CKE Restaurants CEO Andrew Puzder, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, while noting that the trend towards part-timers has slowed since the administration waived enforcement of the employer mandate until 2015, predicted that “part-time hiring will come roaring back when the employer mandate kicks in.” I believe it will come much sooner than that, because the measurement period for full-time headcount will be in effect during 2014.
There may no group of useful idiots more compliant or more intent on communicating their idiocy than those in the entertainment industry. Their raw material will come from a $500,000 grant awarded to the Hollywood Health & Society program at the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, which will “inform television writers, producers, and others involved in television programming on Obamacare facts and implementation information in California and nationwide.” Expect much of your TV programming to become even more unbearable than it already is.
The first indication that Sebelius’s useful idiocy may have run its course came earlier this week. Former Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called for firing “some people who were in charge,” leading the administration to give Madame Secretary the predictable “vote of confidence.” Plenty of former professional sports coaches can tell you what comes shortly after a “vote of confidence,” especially one so obviously orchestrated.