In my last past, I promised to recount my experience on healthcare.gov.
I’ve been curious because the dominant narrative has been hostile – “the disastrous rollout of Obamacare” is what I keep hearing, and this from the (hee hee) liberal NPR.
Disclaimer: I don’t listen to much else in terms of news. I occasionally read CNN.com, but assume that if NPR with it’s so-called liberal bias is reporting such disaster, the truly biased news outlets like Fox and Briebart must be wetting their pants with glee. A certain faction in our government is also quite thankful, I would imagine, to have a distraction from their own little shutdown SNAFU.
Honestly, I was worried about my insurance renewal rates, not because of the disastrous ACA, but because I know that insurance companies do what all profit-driven companies do — try to maximize shareholder value. Disastrous bogeymen provide excellent cover for raising rates. So I was pleasantly surprised by the smaller-than-feared increase. But I thought I’d check out what a comparable plan cost through the federal exchanges.
I started at 7:25 Sunday morning. I created an account. I logged on and filled out information for me, my husband, and our two children. I applied for a subsidy. I reviewed the different plan levels and as best as I can compare, a similar plan would have cost about $1,000 per month.
Our employer-based coverage costs us about $300 per month, so assuming we pay about 30% of the premium, that’s in the ballpark. I did not qualify for a subsidy, nor did I expect to. If my husband (our major breadwinner) were out of work, I imagine we would.
I stopped there. There were lots of options for me to choose, much like flight options you see when you book trips through Priceline.
I could not find an option to delete or withdraw my app, so I opted for a “live chat.” I chatted with Jim, asked him how to withdraw my app, and he said I could either leave it out there until the system withdraws it or call to have it removed.
Including the time it took to refill my coffee cup, once or twice, I was finished and logged out by 8:05 am.
And, yes, I’m still waiting for the disaster.
I realize that early Sunday morning isn’t peak web traffic time. But so what? It was a clean interface and easy to use. Really, really simple in fact. The only health care question I was asked was whether I used tobacco products.
It did ask me a couple of awkward questions about whether my 11 and 13 year olds were married or pregnant, but… whatever.
Now, I’m not going to say things were smooth and perfect with the roll out of the ACA’s website. In fact, our President said:
[I]t has now been six weeks since the Affordable Care Act’s new marketplace has opened for business. I think it’s fair to say that the rollout has been rough so far. And I think everybody understands that I’m not happy about the fact that the rollout has been wrought with a whole range of problems that I’ve been deeply concerned about.
Websites can (and will) be fixed. Healthcare coverage is the issue here, not a month or so of website glitches.
And to those who think only the government can be so inefficient with delivery, I say this.
Have you ever been caught up in corporate bureaucracy?
I can say, without a doubt, that I have visited my health insurer’s website when it doesn’t work. When I have to click a thousand menu items just to get to a list of providers. When if I get the “within 10 miles” and “within 25 miles” confused and try to hit the back arrow, I mess it all up and have to start all over.
When I want to know if my daughter’s boot will be covered and can’t find that answer, even though every option allows me to order a new ID card.
When I get a claim denied, call the doctor, and the doctor’s office tells me that the insurance company never should have denied the claim and I need to take it up with them. So I call the insurance company, sit on hold for 20 minutes, then when the operator says she’ll transfer me, she hangs up on me instead and I have to call back. When I do finally get to the right person, I’m told that the doctors office coded the procedure wrong, so I need to call the doctor back to fix it.
When my kids’ routine eye exam claims are denied and I call to ask why, wait, wait, wait, and then am told that it was a mistake and they will resubmit it. Two years in a row.
Why don’t we hear about these problems? Because there’s no political gain to be made by making hay of them. No cub reporter is knocking down my door wanting to know if my private health insurance is meeting my needs in the most efficient ways possible.
It ain’t bleeding, it ain’t lede-ing.
So let’s be clear. There are problems. Bureaucracy is the unavoidable problem. The necessary evil. Private. Public. Same same. We’re just playing closer attention than normal to healthcare.gov.
These problems will be fixed. The law will not be repealed. This not the end, the implosion, or the apocalypse.
Disaster is what happened in the Philippines where bodies litter the streets. What happened in NOLA. What hit the East Coast last year. Banda Ache in 2004.
Please, let’s not disrespect actual human suffering by conflating inconvenience with disaster.