“You screwed me over,” says a woman cited by President Obama as an Obamacare success story. Jessica Sanford was used as a prop in the president’s “bizarre Rose Garden infomercial” on Obamacare last month in a failed “effort to deflect criticism of the botched Healthcare.gov rollout.” Initially, this single mother was “ecstatic” about the prospect of buying insurance on the Obamacare exchanges with generous taxpayer subsidies she had been led to believe she would receive. But after she was used by the president in his Rose Garden pitch, things quickly went sour:
Then came the letter, this time addressed to Sanford. It was from the Washington State health exchange, whose sad duty it was to inform her that the government had miscalculated her eligibility for a tax credit. Her monthly insurance premium for the same “gold” plan she had signed up for had risen from $198 a month to $280 a month. Sanford was frustrated but decided to shrug off. She purchased the new plan, thinking everything was fine.
Then came the second letter reporting another glitch. A “system error” resulted in some “applicants qualify[ing] for higher than allowed health insurance premium tax credits.” The letter included an apology, along with an upwardly revised premium quote of $390 a month — almost twice what her original policy cost her — and with a higher deductible. In addition, her plan status had been downgraded from “gold” to “silver.” (A cheaper “bronze” plan, Sanford said, was available at $324 per month, with a higher deductible still, but even this was beyond Sanford’s budget.)
The third letter was the final straw. It read, as only machine-generated government letters can:
“Your household has been determined eligible for a Federal Tax Credit of $0.00 to help cover the cost of your monthly health insurance premium payments.”
In response, she posted a comment at the Washington Obamacare exchange’s Facebook page: “Wow. You guys really screwed me over. Now I have been priced out and will not be able to afford the plans you offer. But, I get to pay $95 and up for not having health insurance. I am so incredibly disappointed and saddened. You majorly screwed up.”
While the Obama administration was spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a malfunctioning website, three 20-year-old web designers, working for free, designed a functioning health care website in just three days, showing how easily it could be done. It cost them just a few hundred dollars to set it up. The HealthSherpa site they created is “complete and accurate and provides [the] real prices” you would pay by state, based on you entering your zip code — although the information is provided for “research purposes only,” so you can’t actually use it to sign up for health insurance. ” CNN says the site is “the brainchild of George Kalogeropoulos, Ning Liang, and Michael Wasser. The three were inspired to create the site after they all tried — and failed — to use the broken government website to get insurance.”
Kalogeropoulos said, “We were surprised to see that it was actually fairly difficult to use HealthCare.gov to find and understand our options. Given that the data was publicly available, we thought that it made a lot of sense to take the data that was on there and just make it easy to search through and view available plans.”
This suggests that the Obamacare website glitches might easily have been avoided if a competent contractor had been selected, rather than the Obama administration foolishly dispensing with competitive bidding and awarding a no-bid contract to a firm with a history of foul-ups.
Some observers have said that the “Obamacare website glitches were” the result of cumbersome features “purposely baked in to deter sticker price shock,” and conceal the underlying cost of policies on the exchanges. A recent report quotes a federal “CMS tech officer” saying that “30-40% of the ObamaCare exchange system still needs to be built — including the payment system” that users will need to make the payments required for their coverage to take effect.
Due to the Affordable Care Act, millions of health insurance policies are being canceled, or replaced by policies with higher premiums and deductibles. The president recently announced a supposed “fix” to Obamacare that is illegal, won’t restore the canceled policies, and is designed to scapegoat insurers rather than restore lost health insurance. Obamacare also contains massive marriage penalties that discriminate against married people, and huge work disincentives. It has slashed hiring, and prompted employers to replace full-time workers with part-time employees, driving even unions that once backed it to seek its repeal.