When someone requested permission to repost a comment I made in a Facebook discussion, I realized it was time for me to address this. I’ve found over the years that situations that seem perfectly normal and expected to me often causes huge amounts on non-critical thinking and knee-jerk reactions from others. Like the situation with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the web site HealthCare.gov
Now, for 16+ years I worked as a government contractor and I understand how contracts are awarded. Usually the winner is the one with the lowest bid; not the best qualified, not the contractor with the best plan, just the lowest dollar amount. So to anyone who understands how the government awards contracts, it should be no surprise that a massive undertaking like HealthCare.gov would not be perfect on roll-out. Even big guns like Microsoft and Apple have had their share of not-so-great products like Windows Vista and the iPhone 4 Apple Maps.
When the ACA was passed in 2010, states were told if they wanted to have their own exchange then they had to have it “vetted” by the Federal government. This was to make sure that the insurance companies offering insurance on the exchange (no, the government is not selling the insurance, they are just offering a marketplace) would meet the technical requirements. As of October 1, 2013 there were 31 states who had declined to offer an exchange to their residents and refused to expand Medicare in their state.
As expected, these were red states who were hoping the entire program would never see the light of day. Now that the final portion of the ACA is being implemented, these states are scrambling to take advantage of the 100% reimbursement the government is offering for expanded Medicare and their insurance companies now want to be listed through HealthCare.gov. But because they didn’t go through the review, their computer systems and databases don’t “talk” to the ones from HealthCare.gov. So now you have hundreds of different computer systems talking gibberish to each other.
One of the reasons HealthCare.gov is slow and takes time to complete is the number of verifications it has to process for the application. First, the system has to make sure you are eligible to buy insurance on the exchange so it checks Social Security, Immigration, and other databases to find you. The system wants to verify that you are who you say you are, make sure you don’t already have insurance through your employer, and determine whether or not you qualify for government subsidies that actually lower the cost of the insurance plan.
Conservatives should be thrilled that the system takes the time to make sure that no fraud is being committed and only those eligible are allowed to buy insurance. Isn’t that the reason for all the voter ID laws they want to pass?
When I read diatribes about awful the system is and how it should be dismantled, I have to shake my head at all these “armchair” computer analysts and system administrators. Unless you were an IT person back in 1999 working on Y2K (Year 2000) projects, you have no idea what you are talking about. The sheer number of computer systems that have to communicate to each other and exchange information for the application process is mind-boggling. Three years might seem like a long time, but given the complexity of this project it probably should have been five or more years.
For those with short-term memory loss, Medicare Part D was also a massive failure when it launched in 2006; I don’t recall Senators screaming to have it abolished at that time.
Another reason for the slow response is because SO MANY PEOPLE WANT TO GET AFFORDABLE HEALTH INSURANCE. The system is overwhelmed with people who want this very badly. It doesn’t help when all the “news” people do their own false applications which just tie up the system and keep out real people. (I put “news” in quotes because most news today is info-tainment not real, actual journalism; my role model Andy Rooney is spinning in his grave.)
And by the way, the President didn’t lie when he said you could keep your individual plan if you were happy with it. He really meant that. What happened, however, is that the ACA raised the level of minimum care insurance policies had to offer consumers – lower cost preventative care, equal coverage across the board for every consumer, more bang for the buck. It was YOUR insurance company that canceled the policy, not the President. YOUR insurance company could not handle the COMPETITION in the FREE MARKET of the health care exchanges.
This is true capitalism, an open market with competition between companies. So why are conservatives against this?
For those that don’t want affordable health insurance? Don’t buy it; no one is holding a gun to your head. You will have to pay a penalty of 1% of your total income but that would still be less expensive than being “forced” to have health insurance. Personally I would love to see a complete opt-out where, if you have a terrible accident or life-threatening illness, no medical aid will be offered because you didn’t want to pay for it. Why should the Emergency Room staff or cancer specialists treat you for free when the rest of us are being responsible? Don’t be a “taker”.
Part 2 coming soon. More rants; more reasons.