McClellan: Coming to grips with our online health care chaos - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

McClellan: Coming to grips with our online health care chaos

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Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher at Dobson High School in Mesa.

Posted: Saturday, November 2, 2013 1:03 pm

Who knew that Hurricane Katrina could hit the Internet?

Yet that seems to the case, right? I mean, after all, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has the same flavor as the New Orleans disaster from a few years ago.

Poor planning, a Three-Stooges like response, a mess. And apparently some in the Obama administration knew this was coming.

Because, we’ve learned, the feds knew a couple of weeks in advance that the network would not hold up under the kind of activity it produced in the first days.

In fact, they only tested the entire system just days before its introduction.

What a monumental goof. Obama’s group seems like the Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

The ironies abound here. Obama, whose presidential campaigns excelled in using computer programs and the ‘net to get their voters out, seems to have, shall we see, a less than stellar crew manning the ACA website construction.

And, in maybe the worst irony, the one act the President has hung his hat on, the act that he wouldn’t budge on when the Crazy Republican Wing threatened to shut down the government, has been a mess. His signature act is instead, at least so far, a stain on his time in office.

You’d think his people would serve him better. Instead, they handed him an early, maybe disastrous, failure. And handed his opponents a nice little campaign issue for the 2014 midterm election.

Of course, there’s time to correct the many flaws, and the proof of the ACA pudding will come down the road, when we see how many sign up, how effective the insurance plans are, and what effect a potentially larger group of insured has on all of our premiums.

And maybe, years from now, today’s mess will be merely a blip on the screen.

Maybe. But right now?

He’s handed his opponents just what they need to bolster their arguments against the ACA. Well, against some of them, that is.

The laughable claim, the one that should be immediately dismissed, is this notion that somehow Obamacare is socialized medicine.

Interesting definition of socialism.

Because I took a look at the website, and answered the initial questions that allowed me to look at what’s offered.

And here’s what I found:

I put in for the gold plan, which covers, after deductibles and co-pays, 80 percent of the medical costs, which is what our current plan covers (probably like many of you, our health insurance is the single most expensive monthly cost we have, far surpassing our mortgage).

And lo and behold, up popped ten different companies offering 33 different plans.

In other words, the companies -- all private, none “government run” -- competing by offering different costs per month, ranging from $600 to $1100.

Private companies competing against each other and offering a variety of plans.

Doesn’t sound like socialism to me.

Look, I like the idea of Obamacare -- that with more enrolled, fewer using hospitals as their primary care centers, medical costs might rise at a slower rate. And people who heretofore did little for their health will have the same opportunities for preventive care that the 85 percent of us enjoy.

But that idea depends on the reality of getting many signed up, especially younger, healthier people.

The very people who expect that when they access a website, the website actually works. The very people who’ll have little patience with the monumental tech screw up that is Healthcare.gov.

So I hope this first step in corralling health costs works. But the start is not encouraging, and Healthcare.gov seems to be on life support. The prognosis for this patient is murky at best. Hopefully the “doctors” brought in to revive the moribund patient are successful. Otherwise, the signature legislation of the Obama era could easily be dead and buried, with a tombstone marked “Failure.”

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