"I Don't Mind A Parasite. I Object To A Cut-Rate One."
A great response to a previous blog about “early Christmas presents” came yesterday from President Obama’s hometown newspaper – The Chicago Tribune - in an editorial titled “Obamacare deadline looms in 3 weeks.” In essence, even the liberal Trib is saying “give us a break” and that it’s time for a time-out from ObamaCare. I was somewhat surprised by the tone and some of the “attacks” contained in the editorial, but it all adds up to even the Kool-Aid drinkers in northern Illinois are getting fed up with the program:
“Obamacare deadline looms in 3 weeks
December 3, 2013
Over the weekend, the Obama administration announced that it had met its self-imposed deadline to fix its balky health insurance exchange website for the "vast majority" of users. U.S. Health and Human Services officials issued a graphics-heavy, information-light report that claimed great leaps of progress from the earlier crash-prone website that frustrated most users for weeks.
The administration says, Mission (Largely) Accomplished. The feds set the bar low and now claim to have cleared it.
Federal officials crowed over the weekend that the website can handle 50,000 users at a time. But many more than that will likely flood in, particularly since they've had their individual policies canceled because of Obamacare mandates and they need coverage by Jan. 1. The deadline to sign up: Dec. 23. Three weeks.
Ominous sign that the system still isn't ready for a massive influx of customers: Federal officials are not launching a planned December health care marketing campaign, lest too many users pile into HealthCare.gov and ... bleep, blurp, bloop. We're sorry, the website is currently unavailable. Please try again later.
Illinois officials similarly have advised advocacy groups to delay attempts to enroll people through the website until later in December, the Tribune reported over the weekend.
The problem isn't just with the sluggish response times to load pages. It's in what happens in what insurers call "the back end" — after a customer chooses a plan and sends the application to the insurance company. Insurers need to verify the data, process the enrollment, send a premium bill.
How's that working? Clunkily. No surprise there: Last month, Henry Chao, the HealthCare.gov project manager, startled lawmakers and insurers when he estimated that 30 to 40 percent of the exchange marketplace was still under construction.
Result: Insurers say they have been flooded with phone calls from people who believe they have signed up for a health plan, only to find that the company has no record of enrollment, The New York Times reports. Some insurers say they've received inaccurate or incomplete information, leading them on a costly and time-consuming mission to track down more data. They say a key piece of information — the amount of a customer's premium subsidy — is often missing from the information supplied by the government.
On Monday, Bloomberg reported the latest underwhelming figures: About 100,000 people signed up via the website in November, still far short of the administration's projections. The administration expected 800,000 would sign up for Obamacare by the end of last month.
The next three weeks are crucial. There will be a mad scramble to keep fixing a massively complex computer system while processing millions of sensitive personal documents. That's not just about covering the uninsured. Millions of people who had individual coverage but lost it because of Obamacare need coverage starting Jan. 1. Many of them are still in limbo, their applications lost in the giant federal maze.
All the more reason for the administration to delay the mandate that Americans buy insurance or pay a penalty.
The White House already has granted businesses a pass on providing employees insurance or paying a fine.
Last month, administration officials told state regulators they could allow insurers to extend individual insurance policies into 2014. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois announced Monday that it will allow customers to do that.
Last week, the administration postponed for at least a year plans to allow small businesses in many states to use a website to choose health insurance plans for their employees.
How about an early Christmas present? Give everyone a pause on Obamacare.”
Yes - give everyone a pause, indeed. And God bless (and help) us, every one.
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