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Monday
Sep302013

Obamacare: Confusion and dissension late in the game

By Wendy N. Powell, guest contributor

The government is so desperate to implement this law that in California, navigators will be paid $58 for each person they get to complete an application on the exchanges and an additional $25 for a renewal. What does that say about a law few Americans understand?

Photo: Deborah Cartagena/CDCSenator Ted Cruz is “Dr. Seussing”, labor unions are flipping, Democrats are claiming that Obamacare is good for your health.   What could the matter be, and how can there be so much confusion and dissension this late in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) game?

We must demand flawless and clear education and management of the program, not to mention the personal data federal agencies hold. The largest change to our collective health insurance law in history must be safe, understandable, and frankly impeccable. At this point, that is unlikely.

We need to remember that Obamacare operates on the law of cost sharing. Typical insurance, on the other hand, operates on the principle of risk and premium charges considering that calculated risk.  Under the ACA, people will have the ability to purchase health insurance on demand with pre-existing conditions and cancel when they are well. In this case, the American taxpayers are the ones holding the debt and liability via tax subsidies.

The success of Obamacare depends upon participation by the young and healthy. In a recent USA Today/Pew Poll, “Among the 19% polled who are uninsured, nearly four in 10 don't realize the law requires them to get health insurance next year. Among young people, whose participation is seen as crucial for the exchanges to work, just 56% realize there's a mandate to be insured or face a fine." Add those that knowingly choose to pay the fine to the IRS instead of purchasing health insurance.  The program relies on their participation.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently released rates for Obamacare exchanges. The material provides four choices of coverage levels. Many plans restrict the doctors that can be accessed. Furthermore, if an employee goes to an exchange to purchase insurance and their employer already provides insurance, they cannot participate. This creates a gap in the subsidies for those within the poverty level entitlement.

An estimated 175,000 Obamacare navigators are taking a training program of 20 hours to provide advice and counsel to Americans seeking to understand the insurance exchanges and purchasing options. But the role of the navigator in some circumstances has evolved considerably from an advice and counsel function to pay per applicant. In California, navigators will be paid $58.00 for each person they get to complete an application on the exchanges and an additional $25.00 for a renewal. In fact, by law, they are forbidden to recommend particular insurance. This is a far cry from their initial role “to communicate options.”

The House Oversight and Reform Committee has already uncovered fraud. Scam artists are already on the move telling people to buy an “Obamacare card” or go to jail. They are contacting people by phone, email, and door to door, asking for their personal information or face prosecution. People are falling victim to these scams. Remember, personal information will be available to at least 105 organizations and their staff, most of whom haven’t been subjected to criminal record checks or employment history. The health insurance exchange is expected to become the largest database of personal information in history.

Americans are likely to impetuously choose options in exchanges without full information. Remember, the employer mandate has been postponed until January, 2015 while the mandate for individuals remains at January 1, 2014. Why, we may ask? It is with the hope that the exchanges will foster more competition and drive down the costs of employer-sponsored insurance plans. This is an experiment in state-orchestrated free market insurance competition at the expense of the taxpaying public. Remember, the success and funding of Obamacare is based on the participation of the younger/healthier population.

Current leadership needs to understand that the laws of the land need to be clearer, simpler, and well vetted. This is not a priority for the Obama administration. When citizens lack understanding of laws, the effects are never what they expect regardless of the side of the political fence. This law with so many potential dire consequences should not go into effect. (Commentary/Sept. 30, 2013)
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Wendy N. Powell is the author of the critically acclaimed Management Experience Acquired: Necessary Skills for Successfully Managing Any Employee. Her book is now available on e-book sites. She has been featured on ABC, Fox, and NBC as a management and career expert. Powell writes for a number of publications, including a column at The Huffington Post. To learn more about Powell, see the website Management Experience Acquired. Read more of Powell's articles at The US Report.

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