There's probably no truth to the rumor that swept through Washington newsrooms yesterday that Karmel Allison actually fainted because she suddenly realized what thousands of individuals and families are discovering these days - their health insurance deductibles are tripling or quadrupling, or even worse, under Obamacare. Reports of deductibles zooming from mere hundreds to several thousands of dollars are common in the blogosphere, on cable news, even in the traditional media.
Typical of such reports was a Chicago Tribune story on Alex Weldzius, a nurse practitioner and single father: “If the 33-year-old single father wants the same level of coverage next year as what he has now with the same insurer and the same network of doctors and hospitals, his monthly premium of $233 will more than double. If he wants to keep his monthly payments in check, the Carpentersville resident is looking at an annual deductible for himself and his 7-year-old daughter of $12,700, a more than threefold increase from $3,500 today.”
Weldzius' experience will be repeated millions of times in coming months as more Americans learn a harsh reality about Obamacare that 100 perfectly choreographed sales pitches by President Obama cannot erase. It is impossible to expand health insurance to 30 million previously uncovered people while saving everybody else $2,500 on their premiums, as the president promised would happen.
Here's something else that won't erase the reality of the damage Obamacare is just beginning to wreak on the private health insurance system: invoking messaging scams like calling the crash effort to fix Healthcare.gov “a tech surge,” as an unnamed White House aide described it to Politico, or calling the repair brigade “the best and brightest” to evoke the Kennedy era.
Such tactics warm the cockles of political consultants and crisis-management experts, but they will do nothing to keep millions of Americans from realizing in coming months that Obamacare is why they can no longer see the doctor who treated them for years, why their monthly premiums have gone through the roof and why their full-time job has suddenly become part time.
Here's yet another reason why the crash repair effort is unlikely to make the web site fully useful any time soon: As the Washington Examiner's Richard Pollock reported Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is managing Obamacare, took the highly unusual step of being the systems integrator on the design of Healthcare.gov.
That difficult role is typically reserved for a highly experienced private-sector IT firm with the skills required to coordinate the work of hundreds of sub-contractors. If any one of those sub-contractors makes a mistake in its programming or its efforts aren’t properly integrated with everything else, the web site will be plagued with problems. Put another way, the government is the weakest link in the Healthcare.gov web site development chain, and no amount of PR “damage control” by the Obama White House will fix it.