The White House is increasing its reliance on insurers by accepting their technical help in efforts to repair the problem-ridden online health insurance marketplace and prioritizing consumers’ ability to buy plans directly from the carriers.
The Obama administration’s broader cooperation with insurers is a tacit acknowledgment that the federal insurance exchange — fraught with software and hardware flaws that have frustrated many Americans trying to buy coverage — might not be working smoothly by the target date of Nov. 30, according to several health experts familiar with the administration’s thinking.Two story lines:
- too many chefs spoil the broth
- already trial balloons and preparing American public that the site won't be "fixed" by November 30
But the bigger story is not being reported: sticker shock.
The government has now moved the "shop for plans" to the front end of the website. One can actually see the plans and the subsidies before enrolling (sending in personal information to a site that has never been fully tested for security, and a site that Consumer Reports says to avoid).
These are the story lines not yet being reported. These story lines will be reported once the website is fully working:
- Folks will be shocked when they see the premiums.
- Folks will be shocked when they see they do not qualify for subsidies.
- Folks who do qualify for subsidies, assuming they understand how the insurance plans work, will be shocked when they see the $12,000 annual deductibles. Annual.
- The vast majority of folks who would qualify for $0 premiums do not have access to the website.
Want a sense of scale of the changes we're in for? Think of the differences between Stonehenge-era (2500-ish B.C.) pre-England, where life was nasty and rural and brutish with its peat hovels and sun-worshiping rituals and subsistence farms, and compare it to Victorian England, with its rapidly growing, to-this-day-standing cities and townhouses and railroads. The former was more or less transformed into the latter by the power of the Industrial Revolution.
And I'm guessing we'll see nothing less dramatic in our society over the next 50 years.
Into that maelstrom, wittingly or unwittingly, waded President Barack Obama, intent on fixing some very broken aspects of the health care system. You can make a good argument that health care is literally the most complex, hardest-to-solve issue facing mankind today.
Consider what's at stake and what's involved: physiology, psychology, genetics, technology, politics, finance, morality, and ultimately the value of life itself all tied up in a tight Gordian knot of terrifying importance.
But at its heart the ACA is an astonishingly complex tangle of very human, very bureaucratic regulations, reminiscent, perhaps, of Victorian-era British bureaucracy. Just what you needed for an era of poor information flows and limited scientific knowledge. Not at all what you need for the Economic Revolution.
So here comes 1,500 pages of law and 10,000-plus new pages of federal regulations. Are they looking forward to the floods of information and processing power and harnessing them to enable better choice and consumer behavior?All well and good but they're still missing the biggest flaw. I've mentioned it more than once.