The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The highest form of charity, argued the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, is when the help given enables the receiver to become self-sufficient.But our systems of state charity — aka welfare — have too frequently had the opposite effect: They have actually created dependency. It is time to rethink the way we help people.I’m going to […]
Recent difficulties with implementing the Affordable Care Act have increased opposition to the program. A majority of Americans now oppose it. Problems with the HealthCare.gov website are in all likelihood temporary. However, there are serious long-term problems, particularly considering long-term finance and labor supply issues. Given the mounting difficulties with and growing concerns about the […]
Do you trust your doctor? Most patients assume their doctor is working in their best medical interests whenever he or she orders a diagnostic test or recommends a particular treatment. Customers might wonder whether an unscrupulous auto mechanic is being truthful when he recommends a brake job or a new transmission. But most patients trust […]
The faces of the Detroit bankruptcy are the thousands of pensioners whose promised benefits are suddenly part of the restructure negotiation. When Motown filed for Chapter 9 last July, the city had $11.5 billion in unsecured liabilities. The vast majority of this was pension and health care benefits owed to retired city employees.The images of […]
So you’ve maneuvered the Obamacare website, plugged in your top-secret information and found out how much you are forced to pay to avoid a fine.And for some of you, it turns out you qualify for a government subsidy — making the premium sound like a bargain. But signing on that line to accept the government’s […]
The New York Times published an interminable article on health care recently. Plenty of facts — how scrupulous are these journalists! — but the article displayed absolutely no comprehension of the basics of cause and effect. I was left wondering about the whole point.The article details how the health care system rewards specialists to an […]
Dr. William C. Padgett is a retired optometrist who has been trying to bring an elderly care facility to Beaufort County, North Carolina, for over a decade.“Our senior citizens,” he laments, “are finding that it is difficult and in many cases impossible to find an appropriate long-term care facility locally.” Though he has received several […]
Professor John H. Cochrane of the University of Chicago had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 25, in which he gave a brief description of (among other things) a market in which individuals buy our own health insurance — and not from an Obamacare exchange.According to Professor Cochrane: “…we should transition to […]
A new survey from Harvard University found a large majority of young Americans do not believe the law will save them money, do not believe it will improve their health, and do not intend to sign up for insurance through the new exchanges.
Liberal supporters of the Affordable Care Act specifically, and big government in general, are quick with excuses for all the problems that Obamacare has been experiencing in these early days. We have heard: they did not have enough time, it’s complicated, it’s the insurance companies’ fault, we just need to make a few adjustments, and […]
I opened a new bottle of probiotics this morning, and it had one of those circular seals on the top. You know, the one that reads, “Sealed for your protection.”And that seal got me thinking… how much protection do we need? How much security is enough?How much homogenization, pasteurization, disinfection, national security, etc…. do we […]
As the fallout continues over the cancellation notices sent to millions of people covered by health plans in the individual insurance market, it is becoming clear that millions more workers and their families are expected to lose their employer-based coverage as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is implemented.According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), 156 […]
A president stands disgraced. Congress is scattering. Bureaucrats are baffled. Pundits are reaching. Industry is scared. Politicians are scrambling to do something, anything, to make it better. One political party is in meltdown and the other loving every minute of it, hoping to ride the calamity to electoral gains.The so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care […]
Any married couple that earns more than 400% of the federal poverty level -- that is $62,040 -- or a family of two earns too much for subsidies under Obamacare. But if that same couple lived together unmarried, they could earn up to $45,960 each -- $91,920 total -- and still be eligible for subsidies through the exchanges in New York state.
The president assures us he is not responsible for the wave of health insurance policy cancellations. The insurance companies are. OK, so where is the other side?
The saying goes that things have to get worse before they get better. But with Obamacare, things just keep getting worse — and then they get worse still. In private, even many critics of the law are at least a bit surprised by how poorly the rollout has gone. The question that many are asking […]
Though the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges has dismayed even the law’s supporters, the problem the ACA is designed to address is real enough: Millions of Americans, even those with insurance, lack access to adequate health care. In a voluntary society, civil-sector groups would step up to provide social services, like health […]
It is such a kick to read the transcripts from the White House’s health care “war room” in the first days of release. What a meltdown, and you get to watch it all in real-time.I’m not trying to be cruel to the kindly despots who have wrecked so much of what worked in the existing […]
Obamacare certainly has made history. It has set the record for the fastest-failing Big Government program in world history. This isn’t only about a website flop; it is about the failure of government to accomplish the aims of Obamacare in general, and in a way that has profoundly touched millions of individual lives.“Train wreck” is […]
A handful of reports last week suggested that the Obama administration had moved to delay the health law’s individual mandate — the penalty the law imposes on those who are uninsured. That’s not quite right: Instead, the administration will align the 2014 penalty date, which had been February 15, with the end of Obamacare’s open […]
A common argument made in favor of government-financed health care is that it is inherently cheaper than a private system. Strangely, however, the people who celebrate the government’s ability to hold down health care spending would be horrified at the same argument applied to other public-sector functions. It’s a seriously inconsistent position held by advocates […]
You didn’t want to be the guy chosen to tell Stalin that the wheat crop failed or the production quotas on trucks and cars were not met. Why?Because despots always blame people, not systems.In the same way, you don’t want to be the guy chosen to tell Obama that his health care websites are a […]
Lately, many have characterized this administration as socialist, or having strong socialist leanings. I differ with this characterization. This is not to say Mr. Obama believes in free markets, by any means. On the contrary, he has done and said much that demonstrates his fundamental misunderstanding of and hostility toward the truly free market. But […]
As the health care debate rages on, there is one reality that even the proponents of this hostile takeover of health care by government cannot ignore — and that is money. The government simply does not have the money for a new, expansive, public health care plan.The country is in a deep recession. The last […]
The online Internet exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act are up and running.OK, they’re up. Uhh, OK, some of them are sort of up.It has been almost a week since last Tuesday’s initial launch, and there have been more than a few problems.Website crashes, excessive response times and other problems have plagued the exchanges. […]
You didn’t want to be the guy chosen to tell Stalin that the wheat crop failed or the production quotas on trucks and cars were not met. Why?
Because despots always blame people, not systems.
In the same way, you don’t want to be the guy chosen to tell Obama that his health care websites are a disaster. But that’s what they are, and he’s managed to blame everyone but himself.
At his hilarious and embarrassing press conference on Monday, the president first assured us that “no one is madder than me” about website failures. Then, of course, he lashed out at the critics and implicitly blamed them for technical failures.
“It’s time for folks to stop rooting for its failure, because hardworking, middle-class families are rooting for its success.”
Someone needs to explain to this guy that rooting one way or another does not cause a website to fail. Crop failures in Russia were not because of the enemies of communism, and the failure of Obama’s health care websites are not due to his political enemies, either. The problem is that government is a bad developer, even when it’s contracting out.
Then Obama said, “We did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a website. That’s not what this was about.”
There he goes again, defining his own reality. By plunging into direct provision of a commercial service and forcing people to cough up for it, Obamacare and its website must be prepared to be accessed just like any other private market service.
People don’t like it when websites are flaky and do not perform. By dismissing this feature — treating the website as if it is just a luxury feature that has nothing to do with the program itself — he reveals that he’s stuck in the past.
A website is not just a convenience. It is the heart and soul of a service that purports to serve everyone. In some ways, this is the most important website this government has ever produced. People don’t use the sites of the Pentagon or Housing and Urban Development. But this one people not only use, but are forced to use. Its failure is epic.
The president then made matters worse. He pointed out that people can download a form and mail it in. Also that people can go to centers where there are people who can help. Then he even rattled off an 800 number that people could call.
As The New York Times said with a funny blandness: “Several calls to the number immediately after he read it produced busy signals.”
Busy signals? I think the last time I heard one of those I was in seventh grade. No one under the age of 25 even knows what a “busy signal” is.
The terrifying thing is that all the troubles with HealthCare.gov foreshadow what’s coming with the new system of health care. Who can doubt it? It is going to be thrown back, inefficient, backward-looking, full of bureaucracy, insanely expensive, characterized by busy signals, and ultimately ending with a demand to come back another day.
Let’s talk about expenses. The website Digital Trends estimates costs between $500 million and perhaps as much as $2 billion before the end of 2014 just to operate the website. This is, quite frankly, unthinkably absurd:
“Facebook, which received its first investment in June 2004, operated for a full six years before surpassing the $500 million mark in June 2010. Twitter, created in 2006, managed to get by with only $360.17 million in total funding until a $400 million boost in 2011. Instagram ginned up just $57.5 million in funding before Facebook bought it for (a staggering) $1 billion last year. And LinkedIn and Spotify, meanwhile, have only raised, respectively, $200 million and $288 million.”
In short, this stuff redefines the word “boondoggle.” And it’s not like the typical Pentagon scandal because, again, this is a regular commercial webspace. Every business in America builds websites. The big difference is they do it with their own money. People know how much sites cost and how they are supposed to operate. That’s why this government website failure is so significant.
It is worth asking why a government with half a billion dollars and vast amounts of time and personnel to make a great site can’t actually manage to do it. It’s not as if the government didn’t have the incentive to do it right. The most powerful people on Earth wanted it to succeed — and in this respect, there is no question that Obama is telling truth. He really did wish upon a star.
The problem is that government is not the best means to do anything well. The problem is the absence of two crucial things: the knowledge to assemble the resources properly and the means to make the economic assessment of the value of competitive resources. This is what happens when you eliminate the profit-and-loss system. You can throw massive resources at a problem with the end result being disappointing.
Again, it is not just about the website. It is about the whole system. The fools who imposed this system had all the expertise, all the arrogance, all the money, and all the power, and they still couldn’t do it. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of workable and useful websites go up every day.
Has there ever been in our times a better symbol of the failure of government? The truth is this: Government doesn’t work. Here’s the proof. It’s just the beginning. If you want health care in the future, you are going to have to look outside the system. And plenty of people right now are working on that solution, which, unlike that which the experts create, will actually serve human needs.