Friday, June 7, 2013

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered by Health Exchange Babble

Teams of technology experts are racing to finish building government websites that will allow people to shop and sign up for health insurance this October. People involved in the effort say to expect some problems.

Jennifer Corbett Dooren, "Planners Expect Glitches in Health-Exchange Sites," Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2013
Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I.
Lorenz Milton Hart (1895-1943), American Playwright
Maybe it’s just me.
Maybe it’s my age. 

Maybe it's my lack of faith in government's ability to debug glitches and jump bumps in its computer  programs.

Maybe it's the bureaucratic technobabble.
Maybe it’s because I can’t talk to a person. to get clarifcation. 
Instead,  I have to go online, click onto a computer menu,  respond to an algorithm, or if all else fails, talk to a clerk with a thick accent buried deep somewhere in the technocratic bureaucracy, often located in another state or another country,  to puzzle  out what the new 20,000 pages of healthcare regulations mean to me.  

Small wonder that myself and many Americans are bewitched, bothered, bewildered and occasionally lost in the government and technology wilderness.
I suppose I could read the 2700 pages of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and try to decipher its bureaucratese, or I could buy  a copy of the ObamaCare Survival Guide to find what the Affordable Care Act means for me.
Noodling through what the exchanges offer isn’t easy.  In fact, it can be  downright bewildering.   With so many metallic options – Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, indicating successively higher levels of coverage – written in impenetrable legalese, with catastrophic plans for those under 30, different “basic health plans” for each state, and varying standards for insurance sellers, it’s easy to get lost in the blizzard of bureaucratic and information tech terminology.
The Obama administration says it can lead me and others out of the blinding bureaucratic blizzard by directing us  to Web Portals answering our questions and containing three pages of sign-up instructions for those of us needing federal assistance.    It says you will be able to sign up in 30 minutes.

Today the President is in San Jose  to lay out a strategy and endorse a plan for enrolling at least 7 million healthy young Latinos and other young Americans into his health law needed  to make it politically viable. Otherwise Obamacare may crash and burn as unworkable and impractical.   The President will say if we can get enough of the young and health to sign up, premiums will be lower for the rest of us. Why Latinos?  Because 10.2 million Latinos will be eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  Many of them live in just three states - California, Texas, and Florida.   But signing them up may be a challenge since many are ill-educated and unaccustomed to unraveling federal or health information bureaucratic language.  They will need translators.

When Obamacare supporters say to expect glitches,
When signing up people for health exchange niches,
You have to believe what they say,
That everything will  not be OK,
New computer programs tend to have huge hitches.

Tweet: Understanding rules and language involved in signing up for health exchanges can be challenging  and may lead to technological sigh-up glitches.


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