Problems With Health Law Persist Across the Country

January 8, 2014

Administration Not Able to Escape Health Law’s Problems As It Attempts to Redefine the Debate

Despite hopes from administration officials that 2014 would offer a brighter future for its health care law, the new year is already delivering more headaches all across the country.

Supporters of the health law have long argued that the challenges facing Obamacare are the result of Republican opposition to the law. ‘If only all states had fully embraced the law…,’ they argued. But consider what’s happening in Maryland, a state that fully embraced the health law and is now struggling so much that HealthCare.gov is the positive alternative. Fox News reports, “Top Maryland Democrats are considering drastic measures to address ongoing problems with their state-run Obamacare website, including sending people to the already-strained federal exchange.” Of course, “Any move by the states to direct more people onto HealthCare.gov would inevitably put more strain on the troubled federal site.”

The Wisconsin State Journal reports, “The federal health insurance exchange still has problems, the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance said this week in a notice to consumers. The main problem: Summaries for some Wisconsin plans on HealthCare.gov suggest the plans have no deductible, although detailed information from insurers correctly lists a deductible, said J.P. Wieske, spokesman for the insurance commissioner’s office. Also some summaries are for the wrong plans, Wieske said. The federal government has been trying to fix the problems, he said. ‘At least several thousand people’ in the state have been affected.”

Meanwhile, in Texas, “Sabrina Carr took three of her children to a doctor Thursday, uncertain of whether the insurance plan in which she enrolled her family through the federal health insurance marketplace would cover the appointment.” The Houston Chronicle reports, “The Houson woman said she discovered about two weeks ago that Aetna had no record of her family’s enrollment in one of its plans, even though a marketplace call center representative had assured Carr that her family qualified for an estimated $300 tax credit and her sign-up was completed.” 

The problems extend well beyond broken websites. When or if Carr is able to resolve the technology challenges plaguing her family’s enrollment, “Carr expects to pay $1,000 a month for a top-end gold preferred provider plan to cover herself, her husband and four children, ranging in age from 9 to 15. That’s about $100 more a month than she was paying previously.” On top of premium rate increases, out-of-pocket costs will continue to cause sticker shock as Americans begin accessing care in the new year.

Sadly, the failed rollout of HealthCare.gov was a mere glimpse of the challenges that lay ahead. The new year promises increasing costs, more cancellation notices, limited access to doctors, and security concerns on a still-incomplete health care exchange. With two votes this Friday, the House will continue to act to protect the American people and attempt to introduce some transparency into this implementation.

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