WH warned for months of ObamaCare exchange debacle
posted at 8:01 am on October 9, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Most Americans are angered, frustrated, and surprised by the news that the ObamaCare exchanges which the law will force the self-insured to use don’t work — after three and a half years of preparation. One group, however, cannot claim surprise or shock. The Washington Post reports that the White House has been repeatedly warned for months by all of the other stakeholders in the system of the disaster that was coming:
Major insurers, state health-care officials and Democratic allies repeatedly warned the Obama administration in recent months that the new federal health-insurance exchange had significant problems, according to people familiar with the conversations. Despite those warnings and intense criticism from Republicans, the White House proceeded with an Oct. 1 launch.
A week after the federal Web site opened, technical problems continued to plague the system, and on Tuesday people were locked out until 10 a.m., although some applicants were able to sign up as the day went on. Officials said they were working 24 hours a day to improve the system and that they were confident it would soon be able to meet the demand. They added that there was ample time to correct the site to allow consumers to get insured by Jan. 1. …
Two allies of the administration, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the controversy surrounding the rollout, said they approached White House officials this year to raise concerns that the federal exchange was not ready to launch. In both cases, Obama officials assured them there was no cause for alarm.
Robert Laszewski, a health-care consultant with clients in the insurance industry, said insurers were complaining loudly that the site, www.healthcare.gov, was not working smoothly during frequent teleconferences with officials at the Department of Health and Human Services before the exchange’s launch and afterward. “People were pulling out their hair,” he said.
This revelation makes the Obama administration’s decision to refuse any delays in the individual mandate even more puzzling. Don’t forget that the White House had already announced unilateral (and arguably illegal) waivers for mandates on employers for coverage and insurers for out-of-pocket caps, two key provisions of the ObamaCare structure. By the end of summer, we also knew that the exchanges wouldn’t be able to connect to the IRS to verify income levels, leaving the subsidies open to fraud, and that the protections for sensitive consumer data would not be in place, either.
Why, then, did the White House refuse a delay? Two reasons come to mind. One is that they saw any delay in the individual mandate as potentially deadly for the system, and the other is that it would be deadly for Democrats. Imagine that this happened a month before the midterm elections, rather than 13 months ahead of them. Of course, the extra year could have given the White House more time to avoid most of the problems we’re seeing now — but they had more than three years already to produce a working system.
The Post’s headline reads “Many remain locked out of federal health-care Web site.” Politico reports that many remain locked in, too:
Once you finally make it into HealthCare.gov, it’s not clear how you get out.
For those who’ve busted through glitches on the federal Obamacare insurance website to create an account, there’s no clear, obvious way for consumers to delete the accounts if they choose — at least not in the current incarnation.
A POLITICO reporter used HealthCare.gov’s customer support chat to request that an account be removed, but the support agent said the request would have to be referred to an “advanced” customer service system.
The option to delete account information has become a staple of online services, from Facebook to Amazon. But HealthCare.gov isn’t a private-sector business transaction. And on the federal health insurance portal, people for at least the next few weeks will have to create a basic account even to browse health plan options. That doesn’t require all the personal and financial information that would be added to actually enroll in a health plan or seek government subsidies.
It’s like the Hotel California – you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
A reader shared this with us today. Seems appropriate to use in this post.