The Obamacare website, possibly the most ambitious website ever created, sucks.
Yeah, it sucks.
Hey, I’m 62. I don’t use the word “sucks” nearly as often as younger folks with looser concepts, but in this case, there is no reason for polite language.
The screwed up healthcare website sets out to help you stay healthy and instead drives you crazy.
The government now requires us to buy insurance, which is an infringement of individual liberty, although five of the nine Supreme Court justices somehow overlooked that. Maybe the existing system is so screwed up they thought they had better help fix it.
This editorial was first published in the Bulletin's Oct. 30 print edition.
But, leaving that discussion for a later, we dutiful citizens go to the website. In the backs of our minds we wonder how people who don’t use the Internet will manage this. We marvel at the audacity of the effort to enroll some 50 million people, check their income and immigration records, give them valid options and sell them insurance too.
“Fat chance," we murmur.
On the website, we spend hours getting nowhere. If we even get started, we probably make things worse because the information we enter is apparently not going in the right places and cannot be verified. It creates an incomplete record that will have to be corrected or erased at some point.
Nevertheless this poor excuse for a website cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Many people can hardly afford health insurance at any price, but the government throws money down a rat hole with the dead-eye efficiency of an AR-15 in the hands of a deranged killer.
Okay, that said, don’t take me wrong because I’m criticizing the government. This doesn’t make me a Republican. Republicans criticize the government daily, but seldom if ever did they criticize health insurance before Obamacare.
Consider it this way. Nearly 45 million people nationwide are uninsured. That means they are outside the accepted norm. Millions of people don’t stray off the beaten path for no good reason when it comes to their health.
They either have to stray, or they want to.
In Nebraska, half of the uninsured can’t afford to buy insurance, according to Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Nebraska, so those people have to stray. The other half of the uninsured could afford health insurance but don’t want it. They choose to stray.
A North Platte man dropped his health insurance five years ago because the costs were chewing up his bank account. He figures he saved $30,000 since then. His premiums were right at $6,000 a year and on top of that, his deductible was in the range of $3,000 a year, so if he really needed insurance, he paid $9,000 out of his pocket before he got a dime of help back from his investment.
He said he might as well get some exercise, eat an apple a day and if he goes to the doctor, pay out of pocket. It’s a relatively long ways to $9,000, the break-even point per year.
Sure, he might suffer a catastrophe that runs the bill up to absurd levels, but he can just go ahead and kill himself, which makes about as much sense as buying health insurance.
The craziness does not end there. Doctors, flush with money, drive up the price of farmland. They have so much money they need a safe place to invest it, so they pay more for land than farmers themselves can afford to pay.
In Washington, Republicans, instead of taking charge and rallying support to their party, complain and complain. They promise to complain all the way to the next election.
This is not the time for mere complaints from policymakers. To solve this mess, they must grapple with the underlying dynamic.
That dynamic, as near as I can describe it, is this: Buyers need medical care. There is nothing to drive prices down, because buyers need it badly. So prices climb each year faster than the price of any other essential human need.
You can sell insurance across state lines, or limit the amount of malpractice lawsuits awards (two often cited Republican proposals) until the cows come home, but it would never change that underlying dynamic.
Most of us are out of patience with the half-baked solutions, finger pointing, fraud, waste, confusion, foolery and messing with the health of people.
The medical community has prospered, while the only sane option for many people is to cancel our insurance. And, thanks to the botched Obamacare and whining from Republicans, our respect for government, which was at an all-time low, is now basically non-existent.
The word for that is “sucks.”
Every time we hear a candidate try to make hay by blaming the other side, we should tell them how much that sucks.
We need a real solution.