FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
The high cost of ObamaCare deception
President Obama’s Rose Garden press conference on the ObamaCare disaster featured a group of 13 human props, lined up on stage behind him to put a face on the alleged virtues of his health care scheme. It turns out none of them had actually purchased an ObamaCare insurance plan, and only three of them had even completed the application process.
What a perfect summary of the disastrous incompetence and fundamental dishonesty of Barack Obama’s “signature achievement!” Three weeks in, his gigantic political team couldn’t find any actual “happy customers.” They had to settle for a couple of people who look forward to maybe doing some shopping on the exchanges one of these days. They might not like what they find, assuming they can cudgel anything but a stream of error messages from the system.
Adding to the grim humor of the day, Obama waved off the $400 million website catastrophe – which he rather bloodlessly claimed he was “as angry about as anyone,” although he sounds a hell of a lot angrier when describing Americans who are reluctant to pay higher taxes or let him run up more debt – and suggested calling the ObamaCare phone number instead. This phone number is easy to remember, because it spells out 800-F1U-CKYO on a keypad. A few conservative journalists immediately tried calling the number – not many so-called “mainstream media reporters” seem terribly interested in calling Obama’s bluffs just yet – and were either told that health care options couldn’t be discussed over the phone… or ran into recorded messages telling them to use the non-functional website. Then the entire phone system dissolved into a brick wall of busy signals.
All of this ridiculous crap is happening because Obama and his allies can’t bring themselves to be honest with the American people about anything. One of ObamaCare’s central flaws is its pervasive dishonesty. You don’t need thousands of pages of legislation and an eight-foot stack of regulations when you’re on the level, respecting the populace enough to offer them true equality under the law.
Among the major reasons Healthcare.gov is a useless mass of frozen windows and error messages is that the designers placed a high priority on concealing the true cost of insurance plans from American voters. The system won’t let you browse through health care plans until it has collected a ream of identifying data from you, accessed various government databases, computed your eligibility for subsidies, and backed out the amount that will be covered by your fellow tax serfs. Many of the prices this bug-riddled system does cough up are inaccurate, and will have to be somehow corrected later.
Much of the talk about ObamaCare enrollment and applications is deceptive, because it’s lumping people interested in buying insurance policies with those who get shunted into the greatly expanded Medicaid welfare system. The number of people who have actually bought policies is falsely portrayed as an impenetrable mystery that won’t be resolved until sometime in November. But this was not supposed to be nothing better than a Medicaid recruitment drive, and if it was, it wouldn’t have cost over a trillion dollars to implement it.
Whatever else one might think of the individual and employer mandates, at least they followed a fairly straightforward line of reasoning. It was never really presented honestly to the public – they heard a lot of grumbling about free riders gobbling up emergency-room time, but that was never as big a problem as it was made out to be, and in any event ObamaCare isn’t going to do much about it. The real problem is that forcing insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions places a gigantic financial burden on them, especially if it’s possible to pass on buying an insurance policy until becoming seriously ill. Thus, the trans-constitutional tax/not-a-tax individual mandate is supposed to force everyone into the insurance market.
But even that mechanism is applied dishonestly, because the tax/penalty starts out very low, and we were loudly and clearly told on numerous occasions that it was not a tax. It was magically changed into a tax by the Supreme Court in order to keep ObamaCare alive, after years of Barack Obama insulting (and on at least one occasion, laughing at) anyone who dared to claim it was a tax. If the system had been presented honestly from the beginning, Americans would have been told they would pay a huge tax if they failed to buy government-approved health care plans, and the tax would have been big enough to remove paying it and skipping out on ObamaCare as an option for most people. And that would have freaked the electorate right the hell out, wouldn’t it?
We all know about Obama’s towering “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” lie. He lied shamelessly about insurance premiums going down, too. The contrary developments are not stunning, unexpected surprises. Everyone familiar with the health insurance industry knew they would happen. Truly affordable health insurance does not offer a slew of expensive, mandated benefits that some customers don’t want. Insurance companies are not in the business of losing money by selling products at a loss.
But of course, one of the essential myths of “health care reform” has always been that only the unreasonable greed of private insurance companies kept everyone from enjoying dirt-cheap coverage. Obama-style command economics can’t actually provide that either, but if the public can be kept from exploding in outrage for a little while longer, the truth will no longer matter.
Much of ObamaCare’s complexity, both as a law and as a glitchtastic computer system, is created by presenting the illusion of consumer choice, to fool people into thinking they are still “shopping” at something approximating a “market.” The Soviet Union used to do the same thing with its “grocery stores,” and the results were not dissimilar.
It is often postulated that ObamaCare’s architects designed it to fail, paving the way for single-payer socialized medicine. It’s not so much a process of failure, collapse, and rebirth as the loss of illusions, stripping away the extraneous junk added to ObamaCare so voters wouldn’t understand just how radical the transformation of American society would be. If they can be kept confused and off-balance through a few more crucial elections, it will no longer be necessary to make any pretense of respecting their will, and the last bits of free-market capitalist costuming can be ripped away from the rough beast that has always lurked within. Our deteriorating ability to say “no” was the only reason this elaborate and expensive charade was ever needed.