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Contrary to Barack Obama’s promise, Obamacare deprived millions of Americans of the health plans they liked and wanted to keep. To get the health plan the federal government wants them to have, Obamacare steered these people to HealthCare.gov, a dysfunctional, insecure website also inscrutable to Spanish speakers because it was written in Spanglish. The site’s “navigators” can be convicted felons. Those who manage to “enroll,” remain unsure whether they actually have health insurance. On top of all that, and much more, the Washington Post describes a new problem with Obamacare.
“Tens of thousands of people who discovered that HealthCare.gov made mistakes as they were signing up for a health plan are confronting a new roadblock: The government cannot yet fix the errors.” These people “contend that the computer system for the new federal online marketplace charged them too much for health insurance, steered them into the wrong insurance program or denied them coverage entirely.”
The Obama administration “has not made public the fact that the appeals system for the online marketplace is not working.” And according to attorneys at the National Health Law Program, there is no indication that infrastructure for conducting informal reviews and fair hearings “has even been created, let alone become operational.” A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) mouthpiece told the Post that “We are working to fully implement the appeals system,” but that could be a stretch. Insiders told the Post that an appeals process is not among the top priorities for completing parts of the federal exchange that still do not work: the payment system for insurers, communication with Medicaid, and adjusting coverage to accommodate new family members.
The Post charted the case of Addie Wilson, 27, who was facing gallbladder surgery. The federal website would not calculate her subsidy. A federal call center told her to pay full price and appeal. Trouble is, the computer system that would allow agency workers to handle appeals “has not been built.” But not to worry, Addie, because the CMS is “inviting” tens of thousand of people just like you to return to HealthCare.gov and start all over again.
That could well make the problem worse. As Einstein said, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insanity.