ObamaCare, HealthCare.Gov, and computer gremlins


By Dave Andrusko

Obamacaresignup7reThe remarkable quality of the ObamaCare rollout is that never a day goes by that you don’t find something else broken or find that the damage you knew was coming three years back has landed on the backs of millions of Americans with a thud.

Looking ahead, nobody put it better than the Chicago Tribune in an editorial published today: “You think the Obamacare run-up to Jan. 1 has been a train wreck? Now it gets worse.”

Let’s firstly briefly touch on the wonderful opening paragraphs in which the Tribune offers thumbnail sketches of all the false starts and stops and re-starts and the almost impossible burden it is placing on insurance carriers to hold the healthcare system in place when D-Day hits (that would be January 1).

The editorial illuminates the dozens of different ways applications processed through Healthcare.gov can (and have been and will) be a nightmare. One result is as simple as it is devastating: “You’ll soon be hearing more stories of people who thought they’d signed up for coverage, only to find that their paperwork was gobbled by computer gremlins.” The Tribune, President Obama’s hometown newspaper, is not buying the reassurance that every day in every way HealthCare.gov is getting better.

And, of course, it is entirely possible, indeed likely, that more people will have lost coverage than have gained coverage, certainly as of the first of the year and perhaps a lot longer. (A CBS-New York Times poll published Wednesday found that “13 percent of insured Americans say they’ve received a notice that their health insurance plan is being cancelled or changed because it does not meet the minimum coverage requirements under the 2010 health care law.” And that is likely a small fraction of what will be the real total.)

And remember: “signing up for coverage”—assuming the computer gremlins haven’t eaten your application—is not the same as actually having the coverage, which requires that you make that first premium payment.

Beyond the fact that this same CBS-New York Times poll found 50% disapproving of ObamaCare (to 39% who did), it also conducted separate surveys of uninsured and insured adults and found that 53% of those who lacked health insurance disapproved of the law!

Moreover, 30% of the uninsured said ObamaCare would make the quality of their healthcare worse as compared with only 25% who said it would improve the quality of their health care. (Another 44% said it would not affect the quality of their healthcare.)

Just one other illustration of what could be a much longer post. A new Fox News poll found that exactly two-thirds of the public—67%–agreed that implementation of the law should be delayed a year “until more details are ironed out,” including 54% of Democrats.

Also “Overall, by a 54-38 percent margin, people wish the health care law had never passed and the 2009 system were still in place.”