November 8, 2013
When one steps back from all the frustration, all the confusion, all the failures both in the rollout and the mass behavioral experimentation, and the fact that the math just doesn't work, the primary stated purpose behind Obamacare was simple: to provide uniform, affordable (the A in ACA) healthcare for all Americans. But especially to those who are currently uninsured. At least such was the utopian, egalitarian vision behind its conception. Which is also why, stripping away the political posturing, the html coding errors, the funding issues, the biggest failing of Obamacare would be if it opened,and none of America's uninsured came. Sadly, this last nail in Obamacare's coffin, has just been confirmed with a just released Gallup poll which found that a tiny 18% of uninsured Americans - the primary target population for the exchanges - have so far attempted to even visit an exchange website.
Additionally, Gallup previously found that less than half of uninsured Americans (44%) who plan to get insurance say they will do so through an exchange, and about one in four say they are more likely to pay a fine instead of getting insurance. "These findings help explain the low percentage of the uninsured who have attempted to access the exchange websites."
Actually, Gallup's last sentence is not factually correct: a satisfactory number Americans have visited the exchange websites, whether due to morbid curiosity or for another reason. It is how few of them have gone through the hassle of signing up (such as just one person in the case of North Carolina) that is the most disturbing, and puts the outright failure of Obamacare's primary goal in question.
Still, the fact that less than a quarter of uninsured Americans who say they plan to get insurance through an exchange have visited one so far suggests that other factors are at work. It may be that many uninsured Americans are waiting to try out the health exchange websites until their highly publicized problems are fixed, or they may simply be putting off decisions about getting insurance until later.
Elsewhere, CBS reports that while the survey doesn't say why uninsured Americans aren't visiting the marketplaces, the ongoing technical problems on HealthCare.gov and some state-based sites have likely been a factor. The Obama administration has said that HealthCare.gov should be running smoothly for the "vast majority" of Americans by the end of November. It won't be. And even when fixed it is unlikely that ultimately enrollment numbers, especially among young people, will surge to the threshold level that would be considered sustainable for this ponzi scheme to survive.
Once the site is fixed, the administration is planning a more aggressive media campaign to encourage more people to sign up for plans on the marketplaces. Administration officials also say they expect many people to put off enrollment until the last minute.
The administration has yet to release figures on just how many people have enrolled in insurance on the new marketplaces so far. However, the incremental reports that have been released so far aren't encouraging. Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, on Friday released enrollment data from the four insurance companies in the Washington, D.C. marketplace showing that just five people in the District have enrolled so far."With numbers like these, it's no wonder the Obama Administration hasn't wanted to release how many people have signed up for ObamaCare," Hatch said in a statement. "Whether it's significant problems with the website, people being forced off the coverage they had or skyrocketing costs, these numbers are even more proof of what a disaster ObamaCare is and why it should be delayed."The senators said the new mandate requiring people to obtain insurance starting in 2014 should be delayed as Obamacare problems are addressed.At least one Democrat agrees -- Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., on Thursday joined Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., to introduce a bill that would delay the mandate until 2015.The administration has said that people have plenty of time -- another five months -- to sign up. However, the administration is working with state insurance commissioners, CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports, to try to help at least some people who have been dropped from insurance plans that don't meet new Obamacare coverage standards. The administration is attempting to tweak regulations, Garrett reports, to help people who were dropped from their plans but now only qualify for plans they can't afford.At an event in Atlanta Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reportedly said on the issue, "We're looking at a number of options where there may be an opportunity for that number of people to look at plans that they have right now. But there isn't any specific proposal at the table immediately."
A fully functional rollout of healthcare.gov by the November 30 deadline will not happen, that much is clear. But what is most ironic about the whole situation is that it was the delay of Obamacare that was the primary impetus behind the Tea Party's shutdown of the government. Paradoxically, if Obama had yielded or even negotiated, the ongoing rollout debacle would not exist, as much more time would have been implemented to fix all the glitches, while letting the conservatives foot the blame. Instead, with every passing day that Obamacare is nothing but a (not so fat) pipe dream, the president's rating keeps dropping.
But worse than Obama's approval (and disapproval) rating, will be what will happen if, in the 11th hour as usual, all of the young, uninsured potential Obamacare users simply do not show up.
That would indeed be the ultimate fiasco from which no matter how many sophomorically-written, teleprompted daily speeches of lilting grandure Obama gives, there would simply be no walking away from.