By Tom Blumer
Obamacare’s designers appear to have assumed that life is completely static. As far as they’re concerned, people who are single don’t marry, women don’t have children, married couples don’t sometimes divorce, individuals and families don’t move, and workers don’t change jobs. I say that because HealthCare.gov will from all appearances not accommodate any of the aforementioned common life changes. Seriously. (I’m not about to test that assertion myself; the site is still hopelessly not secure, remember?)
A poorly headlined Associated Press report [“Adding baby to Obamacare health plan isn’t easy”] by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar carried at Yahoo News attempted to limit the damage, perhaps in hopes that smartphone users and others won’t click through and see how awful and far more sweeping the problems are (bolds are mine):
Adding a new baby to plan not easy (It’s not possible at Healthcare.gov. — Ed.)
There’s another quirk in the Obama administration’s new health insurance system: It lacks a way for consumers to quickly and easily update their coverage for the birth of a baby and other common life changes.
With regular private insurance, parents just notify the health plan. Insurers will still cover new babies, the administration says, but parents will also have to contact the government at some point later on.
Right now the HealthCare.gov website can’t handle such updates.
It’s a reminder that the new coverage for many uninsured Americans comes with a third party in the mix: the feds. And the system’s wiring for some vital federal functions isn’t yet fully connected.
It’s not just having a new baby that could create bureaucratic hassles, but other life changes affecting a consumer’s taxpayer-subsidized premiums. The list includes marriage and divorce, a death in the family, a new job or a change in income, even moving to a different community.
Uh, Ricardo, handling life changes is a “vital” function — and you’ve just admitted that Barack Obama’s and Kathleen Sebelius’s HealthCare.gov can’t handle them, period.
Such changes affect financial assistance available under the law, so the government has to be brought into the loop.
At least 2 million people have signed up for private health policies through new government markets under President Barack Obama’s overhaul. Coverage started Wednesday, and so far things appear to be running fairly smoothly, although it may take time for problems to bubble up. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calls it “a new day in health care” for millions of Americans.
Insurers say computerized “change in circumstance” updates to deal with family and life developments were supposed to have been part of the federal system from the start.
If insurers were indeed led by the government to believe that “change in circumstance” updates were supposed to be there, the failure to include them appears to be yet another potential case of deliberate government failure. Throw that into the mix with the fact that no meaningful security was ever built into the site, and that no ability to pay tax subsidies to insurers has ever been developed, and it’s more than reasonable to entertain the possibility that the administration, or at the very least certain people in it, never wanted this contraption to work properly. Despite the temptation to believe otherwise when it comes to government workers and their contractors, it’s just too hard to accept that anyone is that stupid and incompetent.
Given just the three critical omissions just identified–not botches, “quirks” or glitches; these are flat-out omissions, and there are surely others–it’s hard to imagine how anyone can take Ricardo Alonso-Zalidvar’s assertion that “so far things appear to be running fairly smoothly” as anything other than a bald-faced lie.
Editor’s note. This appeared at newsbusters.org.