By: John Hayward
11/4/2013 09:33 AM
The New York Times dropped jaws from coast-to-coast this weekend when it offered the Soviet-style spin that Barack Obama merely “misspoke” when he repeatedly promised that Americans would be able to keep their preferred health insurance plans under ObamaCare. Like good little apparatchiks, the Times proceeded to deliver the current Obama spin that your plan was lousy anyway, you were stupid to think you could survive with the kind of insurance plan that doesn’t offer maternity benefits for men, and the Glorious Five-Year Plan is doing you a favor by killing your policy and dumping you into the hellish ObamaCare exchanges.
Of course, none of that bears the remotest resemblance to Obama’s oft-repeated lies on the campaign trail. He never said anything like, “It’s true that millions of you – perhaps over half of you, based on estimates from my Administration – will lose your existing plans. And you’ll pay more. But the superior benefits you receive under my mandates will be worth the additional cost. Now, you might say, Mr. President, I don’t need substance abuse coverage, I don’t even drink. And that may be true. But the overpayments you make for the benefits you don’t need will provide us funding to cover the millions of Americans who currently cannot obtain affordable health care.”
As Victor Davis Hanson brilliant observed at National Review, “If a program is said to be both superior and universal in providing excellent coverage for all, why would there be any exemptions whatsoever for anyone, especially for those who support or even helped pass the legislation?” President Obama handed out thousands of waivers to his best political allies and big contributors. Why did he work so hard to “rescue” them from those superior ObamaCare policies? Doesn’t he want them to have supercalifragilisticexpialidocious health insurance, just like the rest of us?
Of course, getting those so-good-you-had-to-be-forced-to-buy-it ObamaCare policies is a tall order, because Obama’s system is a pile of useless junk that would have resulted in lawsuits and indictments, if a private company had tried to dump it on American consumers. The President is still making wacky “mis-statements” about it. During his panicky spin-control speech in the Rose Garden a couple of weeks ago, he assured Americans that if the website is down (as it almost always is, despite HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ false assertions to the contrary), they can still pick up the phone and buy a policy that way, easy as pie:
While the website will ultimately be the easiest way to buy insurance through the marketplace, it isn’t the only way. And I want to emphasize this. Even as we redouble our efforts to get the site working as well as it’s supposed to, we’re also redoubling our efforts to make sure you can still buy the same quality, affordable insurance plans available on the marketplace the old-fashioned way — offline, either over the phone or in person.
And, by the way, there are a lot of people who want to take advantage of this who are more comfortable working on the phone anyway or in person. So let me go through the specifics as to how you can do that if you’re having problems with the website or you just prefer dealing with a person.
This was absurd on its face, because you can’t browse through numerous complex options – including variable benefit levels, premiums, out-of-pocket expenses, and options from several providers – with verbal information relayed during a phone call. If you did, the process would take hours, and involve reams of hand-written notes. And, once again, it bears not the slightest resemblance to Obama’s campaign promises of click-to-purchase high-tech insurance exchanges.
Alas, the poor suckers who bought Obama’s rhetoric and called his 1-800-F1UK-YO number, consulted with a navigator, or even mailed in paper applications haven’t been faring much better than the frustrated would-be users of TrainWreck.gov. And the White House knows it, as the latest internal memos poached from the Most Transparent Administration in History by ABC News illustrate:
While President Obama and other top aides have publicly reassured frustrated consumers that they can bypass the troubled website and apply by phone in as little as 25 minutes, those working most closely with the rollout acknowledged privately that even the nonelectronic avenues would be no more efficient or guaranteed, the documents show.
“The same portal is used to determine eligibility no matter how the application is submitted (paper, online),” reads a Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight memo from Oct. 11.
“The paper applications allow people to feel like they are moving forward in the process and provides another option,” it says. “At the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue.”
That wouldn’t be a bad motto for Obama’s America: “At the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue.” Except it’s not really all of us, thanks to ObamaCare’s waivers and levels of aristocratic privilege for the Special People. But a fresh train-wreck-load of us will get dumped into this queue when large-scale cancellations begin hitting the employer insurance market – over 90 million of us, according to the Administration’s vewy vewy qwiet estimates – and the system currently cannot handle the old-time uninsured plus the 3.5 million (and counting!) “red herrings” (as the Democrats sneeringly dubbed them) who have been blown out of the individual insurance market.
So yes, America, your President once again brazenly and cynically lied to you when he shoveled all that garbage about using the phone or snail mail to skip 404Error.gov and buy your policy with last-millennium technology. It’s more fitting that way, since ObamaCare is state-of-the-art 1950s ideology – might as well try to access it with 1950s technology. But that doesn’t work either, and Obama knew it when he spoke in the Rose Garden. It’s a total scam, like everything else in ObamaCare. He was just playing for time:
The documents show that officials decided reluctantly to encourage consumers to fill out paper applications to buy more time and tame mounting frustration with the website.
Initially, administrators of the enrollment process appeared wary of such a directive, knowing that it would not necessarily be faster and could be more labor-intensive for contractors processing the mail. But, ultimately, the memos show, officials decided to embrace paper applications to avoid losing the interest of potential enrollees.
“Navigators are seeing people very frustrated and walking away, so they are turning to paper applications to protect their reputations as people in the communities who can help,” a memo from Oct. 15 noted, “even though the paper applications will not have a quicker result necessarily.”
You can thank House Oversight Republicans for uncovering this little bombshell – they’re the ones who uncovered these “war room memos” from Health and Human Services, while useless House Democrats were swinging from the rafters and screeching that everyone who claims to have lost their insurance plan under ObamaCare is a mythological Chicken Little. How little America would know about the unfolding ObamaCare disaster, if not for diligent Republican investigators!
Back over at National Review, Victor Davis Hanson reiterates a point that I’ve made a few times about the ObamaCare crash: it’s going to drive away the Young Invincibles that Obama desperately needs to fleece for cash to keep his system running. They are the demographic least likely to put up with a buggy website, an 800 number, and mailing off stacks of paperwork just to keep their wheels spinning while the Administration pumps another 50,000 volts into the bolts on Frankenstein’s neck and tries to get him off the table. Hanson adds the interesting prediction that all of these delays are giving young people time to do something they haven’t really done until now: think clearly about the options on the table in front of them, and conclude the individual mandate tax is a small price to pay for escaping from ObamaCare:
If people can’t get online, why should they continue to try? (Sort of like calling a 1-800 fix-it number, getting put on hold by someone in India, and then swearing never to do that again.) Each time an administration official assures the public that the latest glitch is about fixed, and each time that it is not, a few more hundred thousand will give up.
And if, for many, the penalty is cheaper than the premium and the latter can be retroactively paid after a sickness, then why pay the cost upfront? If people can get a known Medicaid package free without too much scrutiny about the actual facts of their income and status, why would they prefer to pay for an unknown Obamacare plan?
If younger people feel both broke and invincible, why expect them to flock to pay for something that costs and that they won’t often use?
While the individual mandate was presented as a sort of punishment for failing to comply with the commands of the ObamaCare commissars, young people have been given enough time to assess it as a kind of insurance payment in its own right. Pay the tax – no paperwork, no buggy website, no sitting on hold with stammering help-line representatives who can’t sell you a policy anyway, because the web system they rely upon isn’t working. The individual mandate tax is modest – only a few hundred bucks at most, for younger people – and it will come painlessly out of their tax returns at the end of the year. And then you’ve got all the insurance coverage you really need, because Obama’s jacked-up premiums come with gigantic out-of-pocket deductibles that make them useless for anything but the most severe medical emergency… and, as the President loudly and repeatedly promised, you cannot be denied coverage if you choose to wait until catastrophe strike to purchase a plan.
ObamaCare was always a bad deal for young and healthy people, but the failure of its enrollment mechanisms make paying the largest middle-class tax increase in a generation, and staying far away from the ObamaCrash until and unless a serious medical problem crops up, a “no-brainer.”