Lincoln * Institute

Colin A. Hanna

Colin A. Hanna

President
Let Freedom Ring, USA

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Let Freedom Ring

Obamacare: Password Purgatory

by Colin Hanna
 

How bad is the ObamaCare federal exchange rollout? No one knows for sure, because the Obama administration that once claimed to be the most transparent in history has been about as opaque as lead on how it's really going. How many have really logged on and how many of those have signed up? The number cited by Sen. Chuck Schumer — 19 million visits to the website — simply is not credible. But even if you give him the benefit of the doubt, you should pay close attention to the exact words he uses: he referred to 19 million visits, not 19 million people. I am just one person — but I've had at least 19 visits to the site, every last one of them incomplete and frustrating. I am now in what I call Password Purgatory on Healthcare.gov.

I'll explain.

I went on the site the first day it was open. I started entering the information requested. I selected a user name. I created a password. And I answered all the security questions that would allow me to recover my username and password if I forgot them. Shortly after that, my computer screen totally froze. I couldn't click on any field and I couldn't add any information. My cursor either disappeared or wouldn't move; I don't recall which. So I rebooted my computer and went to the site again. I tried to log in with my username and password — which I knew without question. I got an error message saying that they were invalid. I clicked on the "Forgot username" and "forgot password" links — each of which promised to send me the forgotten information to my email address, which I had provided when I first connected. No emails were ever received — not my username, not my password, not even a security question to determine if I was the person I said that I was. I then tried re-creating my account — but I was prevented from doing so because my selected username and password had already been taken. Hence my term, "Password Purgatory."

I logged on at least a dozen times after that and tried any number of variations of the account setup procedure, and received a dizzying variety of error messages, but I was never successful. I then tried the online chat option — and chatted with Christine, who was powerless to do anything but apologize for system problems. Then she simply refused to answer my question about why I hadn't received any emails in response to several attempts to verify my username and password. Of course, each one of these failed attempts probably resulted in my being counted as one more website visitor, attesting to the high consumer demand for ObamaCare as cited by Senator Schumer.

However, as frustrating as all of this was, it's nothing compared to the actuarial imbalance that's developing deep within the ObamaCare statistics. You see, in the face of these mammoth systemic problems with the website, almost assuredly those who persist in the application process are adverse selectors — people sick enough and desperate enough for coverage that they'd endure almost anything to get insurance. There won't be enough young healthy folks who don't think they need insurance anyway and who don't want the hassles they've heard about (and who will discover disproportionately large price increases due to a controlling pricing ratio that acts as a financial disincentive to the young and healthy) to provide actuarial balance. If the fine is delayed, which has always been popular but is now becoming even more so, then there will be fewer still who enroll at the new higher rates.

Therefore, delaying the fine will both diminish the pain that ObamaCare causes and set the stage for its ultimate unraveling. Insurance companies will scream bloody murder when they see how much adverse selection has occurred and threaten to drop out of the market, possibly by October 31, when they may have a brief but little-understood exit opportunity, and almost certainly before next year's enrollment period. The Obama administration will then be forced either to okay premium hikes (which will be politically unpopular) or beg Congress to restore and possibly increase the individual mandate fine in order to force actuarial balance (which will probably be even more politically unpopular). Either way, ACA/BO Care starts to unravel. So … delaying the individual mandate fine is politically popular, should be scored as a Republican win, and will ultimately lead to the program's collapse, and growing public discontent, faster and more permanently than defunding ever could.

When Ted Cruz said that ObamaCare was unfair and unworkable, he was more than a little right. And really so far right as he has been accused of being.

Colin Hanna is President of Let Freedom Ring, USA