The talking heads at FOX news, Conservatives in Congress, and fear mongers are at it again. They are reporting, that unnamed studies suggest only “six” people enrolled in a health insurance plan through the federal exchange on October 1, 2013. These Conservatives and even the Democrats who have bought into this latest meaningless piece of information are “appalled” at what a disaster the roll-out of ACA turned out to be. It just doesn’t matter how many people enrolled the first day. Why? Choosing a health care plan is NOT, contrary to what Conservatives want you to think, like buying a product off of Amazon. You don’t have to prove your citizenship, verify your identity, and verify your income to shop on Amazon. You pick your product, provide payment, wait for the item to arrive and you are done.
There had been so much controversy about ACA/Obamacare that people were very curious about what they would find on the exchange. Statistics suggest that hundreds of thousands of people checked out the web-site in the first few hours according to studies easily found through the search engines. Unfortunately, the federal system crashed and other problems were identified. The system has been taken down several times while analysts work to identify the problems and fix them.
However, I think there is a more important variable at play in terms of why enrollments are slower than some of the fatalists suggest. Purchasing a health insurance plan takes thought. It is a major decision and one you have to live with for at least a year. Assuming people would simply sign-up for a plan the first day is like looking at pictures of three homes on the internet and buying one sight unseen. Most people I have spoken to wanted time to look at the various plans, verify that the doctors and clinics they use were in network providers and just think about the decision for a few days. That is what most conscientious people do when considering any kind of a purchase.
So why then is everyone falling victim to “the sky is falling, hardly anyone signed up for ACA, it must be a failure.” A better measure would be to determine the number of people who began the enrollment process. As many of you know that read our blog, I have had PCIP (Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan), the first health plan rolled out under ACA, since 2011. I will be transferring into the Kentucky Exchange by December 31, 2013 when this plan expires. Newsflash, I haven’t completed the sign-up process. I completed the online enrollment process, but I have to provide additional information to verify my income. This information must be mailed or faxed in. If you submit an anticipated income that is significantly different from income claimed in previous tax years, you are asked to submit additional information. Once that information is received, I will be notified via email and then I will be cleared to actually choose the plan I want.
I was able to complete the enrollment process, right up to the point of making payment arrangements. I have seen the plans and know which one I will choose when I am given the green light by the state. I have to admit, I would not have finalized my enrollment process by choosing a plan day one, even if I hadn’t had to submit additional information on my income. It isn’t that I had difficulties, it is just that I had many plans to choose from and frankly some were almost identical, even offered by the same company, so I felt the need to really study my choices.
During the past couple of weeks I have also had the opportunity to help a couple of my family members shop for a prescription drug plan on medicare.gov. We perused the possible plans. They picked their top three and then decided to talk about it for a few days and decide what they wanted to do. Gee, that sounds very similar to what I chose to do in regard to plans on the exchange and what many others are doing everyday as they review their options and decide what plan they want to commit to.
This daily “crisis event” is exactly what the Conservatives and Insurance Companies want. Remember they are working towards an “I told you so” mentality. However, the real reason we are having all these issues with ACA is simple. In the two years leading up to the roll-out of ACA, Conservatives and Republicans refused, absolutely refused to take up any issue that might have made the roll-out more effective and instead spent billions and billions of hard-earned tax payer money to undermine this program. Am I the only one who wakes up each morning and wonders, “What will be the ACA fictional catastrophe of the day?” Once again, drama has ensued, over a “supposed” statistic, that only six people enrolled in ACA on the first day, that Conservatives are either unwilling or unable to expose the source of to the public. It is time for this to STOP. Pandemonium that is provoked by the media, Congress, and pundits must come to a close. People’s lives are at stake here as they choose much needed health insurance.
As a country, that prides themselves on being well informed, we should be above this and refuse to give into these “manufactured crises” meant to deflect and denigrate the Affordable Care Act as Conservatives and Health Insurance Companies want so the American people are “free” to return to “junk” health insurance policies. It is time to take a stand and call out these pundits and conservatives for the “crazy making” people they are and not buy into their hysteria.
About the Authors: By: Barbara J. Cobuzzi, MBA, CPC, CPC-H, CPC-P, CPC-I, CENTC, CPCO and Lynne Smith, MSSW. Barbara is an industrial engineer with an MBA. She worked in the pharmaceutical industry for many years before moving into the healthcare industry where she had a company where she provided top quality coding, compliance and revenue cycle management services for physicians. She has since moved into full time consulting for physicians. Barbara is a nationally known expert known for her education, consulting and expert witness services. Lynne has dedicated her career to helping others. She has experience as a social worker in a rural county, an administrator in a large hospital network and as a College Professor. She uses the skills she developed over the years as an advocate in a variety of areas including her most recent venture serving as a Healthcare Advocate. Together, Lynne and Barbara own the ACA Healthcare Advocates consulting firm and are available to individuals, families and businesses to help them meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act in order to meet the specific needs of the client while optimizing the fiscal considerations. Please direct your questions and/or inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.