Monday, December 16, 2013


I've always had mixed feelings about Obamacare since it became law. A big part of me knows that anything that our government runs will be done incompetently, will cost the American taxpayer lots of money and will generally do the job far worse than the private industry. But another part of me has seen the effects of the private industry on the people around me in regards to pre-existing conditions and spiraling cost for those who must buy their insurance privately. Obamacare, right or wrong, has addressed some of those issues so it isn't all for nought. Still it is just rolling out and already, some of the things I predicted are coming true. Employers no longer have as much incentive to offer healthcare and are dropping people from their rolls and putting them on the taxpayer roll. Also, to make the books balances, people who want simple (thus cheap) coverage must now pay for things that they will never use such as maternity benefits for men. Now thousands of people will have to pay more for things they will never use to help reduce costs for those who do need it.

A recent poll came out showing that the majority of American's now dislike Obamacare. However, the majority of Americans still think we should fix it rather than scrap it. I guess I'm in the majority of both groups finally after being in the minority of both those groups for the last couple years. I was just ahead of my time!

Personally Obamacare has effected me to a greater extent than I would have ever guessed. My mom is one of those people who were forced to loose her insurance once Obamacare rolled out. Being self employed, she has to buy hers and nobody would insure her anymore due to pre-existing conditions pretty typical of those nearing retirement age. Like it or not, she has to sign up for Obamacare. Also, my mother-in-law recently immigrated to this country and because she is retired, she has no healthcare what-so-ever over here. Our plan was that she would fly back to her home country where she is insured once a year for wellness checks and that we would get some sort of catastrophic policy over here in case something bad happened. Well part of Obamacare says that now we much buy a full policy or she faced getting fined yearly.

So when the website opened up three months ago, I and thousands of others tried to jump through the hurdles to sign up for some sort of Obamacare policy. I think in the first three weeks, I created a half dozen accounts until I was finally able to completely create one that would work. The first five would get hung up and error out and those errors would forever be linked to the account making it unusable. About a month into the process, I finally started step one which is to see if my mother-in-law qualifies for financial assistance. You can't begin to shop for a policy until this question is addressed. After two weeks of trying to answer the questions and get to the end, I finally gave up. The website just kept hanging up and erring out. I started yet another new account and redid the application a second time, this time getting to a point where I had to send in proof of my mother-in-law's immigration status. We waited three weeks before finally getting a response to finish the rest of the application which we did only to have it error out on the final signature page. The error simply stated that the system wasn't working but would be again in 24 hours.

After a week of going through the entire application every single time (because it still doesn't allow you to only visit the parts that need work), I was still getting the same error and called the helpline. They went through the entire application on their end (a very laborious process) and got the same error. Their solution was to wait a week and try again. I did this and still got the same error and finally called the helpline yet again.

Once again the operator took me through the entire application and got the same error. So her solution was to delete everything and do it all yet again. Finally last week, three months into the process, I successfully got through the first hurdle and found out the my mother-in-law doesn't qualify for federal financial assistance, a fact that I knew going into it. According to them, she is eligible for Medicaid but according to the Medicaid site she isn't. Right now I am in some sort of waiting pattern waiting for a call from Medicaid that I was told would come in a day or two. I'm not holding my breath.

So far in the state of Iowa which uses the federal website for signing up for Obamacare, only 750 people have successfully signed up for some sort of insurance. My mother-in-law is still not one of them after three months of trying on a daily basis to do so. So when you see someone on television saying that the Obamacare website is 'fixed' and now working, don't believe them. The truth is that a few people are just getting lucky.


Bone said...

They really should have had the website running flawlessly before the roll out. Talk about horrible PR.

Here in Alabama, because our governor is being oh so helpful, we only have one insurance company to "choose" from. But six different plans. So there's something, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I've not been able to make head or tail of the Obamacare. All the stuff I thought it was supposed to do it doesn't.
I took it to be a community rated system with the whole subsidising those that either can't afford general health insurance or won't be insured due to existing conditions or have been timed out where the illness is chronic. I took all paid for maternity because it's a community good however you slice it. And I took it that it would do much to bring the drug cartel under some sort of control. If for no other reason than there is, in theory, a single buyer with the power to really deploy market power not some poor patient out in the middle of windswept nowhere.
I had even hoped it might show a way for our craven cowardly politicians to take on the vested interests.

Ed said...

Bone - Although I don't expect flawless with anything government run, I do expect it to at least halfway function.

Vince - You aren't alone. I don't think most American's, citizens and politicians alike know what is in Obamacare. We only seem to find out as the details hit the deadline for becoming law.