By Dave Andrusko
Likely as not, it would be impossible to find back-to-back quotes that better illustrate the ongoing mess that is the rollout of ObamaCare—and why what we’ve seen so far is only a taste of a much wider disaster that we will witness in 2014.
These quotes come from today’s “Wonkblog” which runs in the Washington Post. First, they cite the Post’s Sarah Kliff from last Friday:
”The Obama administration is set to announce Friday an ambitious health-care experiment that will make Maryland a test case for whether aggressive government regulation of medical prices can dramatically cut health spending. Under the experiment, Maryland will cap hospital spending and set prices — and, if all goes as planned, cut $330 million in federal spending. The new plan, which has been under negotiation for more than a year, could leave Maryland looking more like Germany and Switzerland, which aggressively regulate prices, than its neighboring states. And it could serve as a model – or cautionary tale – for other states looking to follow in its footsteps.”
Can’t beat that, right? We’ll then there is this, two days later, written by the Post’s Aaron C. Davis and Mary Pat Flaherty
“More than a year before Maryland launched its health insurance exchange, senior state officials failed to heed warnings that no one was ultimately accountable for the $170 million project and that the state lacked a plausible plan for how it would be ready by Oct. 1. Over the following months, as political leaders continued to proclaim that the state’s exchange would be a national model, the system went through three different project managers, the feuding between contractors hired to build the online exchange devolved into lawsuits, and key people quit, including a top information technology official because, as he would later say, the project “was a disaster waiting to happen.’”
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(The headline, by the way, was “Maryland officials were warned for a year of problems with online health-insurance site.”)
There is a lot more, but let me mention just one more. First, a tip of the hat to Hotair.com’s Ed Morrissey who wrote a piece today based on a story that appeared Saturday in (of all places) the New York Times. Under the headline, “Enrollees at Health Exchanges Face Struggle to Prove Coverage,” Robert Pear and Abby Goodnough write
“FORT WORTH — Paul D. Donahue and his wife, Angela, are among more than a million Americans who have signed up for health coverage through the federal insurance exchange. Mr. Donahue has a card in his wallet from his insurer to prove it. But when he tried to use it to get a flu shot and fill prescriptions this week, local pharmacies could not confirm his coverage, so he left without his medications.
“Similar problems are occurring daily in doctors’ offices and drugstores around the country as consumers try to use insurance coverage that took effect on Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act.
“In addition to the difficulties many face in proving they have coverage, patients are also having a hard time figuring out whether particular doctors are affiliated with their health insurance plan. Doctors themselves often do not know if they are in the network of providers for plans sold on the exchange.
“But interviews with doctors, hospital executives, pharmacists and newly insured people around the country suggest that the biggest challenge so far has been verifying coverage. A surge of enrollments in late December, just before the deadline for coverage to take effect, created backlogs at many state and federal exchanges and insurance companies in processing applications. As a result, many of those who enrolled have yet to receive an insurance card, policy number or bill.
“Many are also having trouble reaching exchanges and insurance companies to confirm their enrollment or pay their first month’s premium. Doctors’ offices and pharmacies, too, are spending hours on the phone trying to verify patients’ coverage, sometimes to no avail.
“’The system wasn’t really built to handle this kind of glut of new patients,’ said Dr. Curtis Miyamoto, a radiation oncologist at Temple University Hospital who is president of the Philadelphia County Medical Society. ‘So it’s resulting in us having some delays in getting people verified, and therefore delays in their care.’
But Morrissey adds an important addendum to the Times’ story:
“This issue extends well beyond whether an enrollment has been successfully concluded. As mentioned above, providers themselves aren’t even sure whether they’re in network on which plans, which means that their ability to get reimbursement is under question on every patient that comes through on anything other than a group plan. And even if they know that, providers aren’t sure which procedures and treatments will be covered, thanks to a massive amount of confusion over the mandates in ObamaCare.
“This, of course, is just the appetizer. When the employer mandate hits this fall, it will similarly scramble the coverage of tens of millions of Americans who end up in the ObamaCare exchanges when their employers simply decide to opt out of subsidizing the rapidly-escalating premiums in health insurance, and we’ll get a crisis orders of magnitude larger one year from now.”
We’ll do a further update on Tuesday.