ObamaCare foul-ups lead to chaos at hospitals
As expected, it’s chaos in the hospitals, as the disastrous system Barack Obama inflicted on America leaves medical staff uncertain whether patients have valid insurance. This is yet another reason why it was important for the chief executive to stay on top of his signature initiative, and order the plug pulled when it became clear the system was not ready for launch on October 1. But instead, as we all know, the Empty Chair just assumed everything was going great, and later claimed he was the most angry and frustrated person in America when he read the newspapers and discovered Healthcare.gov was a useless mass of bugs and unfinished code.
Judging by a report at the UK Daily Mail, there are people who would hotly dispute the President’s claim of being the most frustrated victim of the Healthcare.gov fiasco:
Hospital staff in Northern Virginia are turning away sick people on a frigid Thursday morning because they can’t determine whether their Obamacare insurance plans are in effect.
Patients in a close-in DC suburb who think they’ve signed up for new insurance plans are struggling to show their December enrollments are in force, and health care administrators aren’t taking their word for it.
In place of quick service and painless billing, these Virginians are now facing the threat of sticker-shock that comes with bills they can’t afford.
‘They had no idea if my insurance was active or not!’ a coughing Maria Galvez told MailOnline outside the Inova Healthplex facility in the town of Springfield.
She was leaving the building without getting a needed chest x-ray.
‘The people in there told me that since I didn’t have an insurance card, I would be billed for the whole cost of the x-ray,’ Galvez said, her young daughter in tow. ‘It’s not fair – you know, I signed up last week like I was supposed to.’
Hey, remember how the Administration was running around and claiming victory because the system was “fixed” after Thanksgiving weekend? That was funny as hell, wasn’t it? To this day, Obama’s team of liars claims they have no way of determining how many valid insurance policies have been sold through the ObamaCare exchanges. They throw out a lot of crazy made-up numbers, which the media dutifully reports as if they were valid facts, but the one and only metric that actually matters for the moment is how many fully-processed policies have seen their first completed payment. The people described by the Daily Mail are learning that the hard way. Ms. Galvez said no one has even sent her a bill yet.
The Daily Mail goes on to speculate that Galvez wouldn’t be in much better shape if she did have valid ObamaCare coverage, because it stinks – she’d have to pay a $5,500 deductible before seeing any benefits from her “bronze” plan. She’s paying a whopping $450 per month in premiums – or, rather, she will, when someone gets around to sending her a bill.
A similar situation frustrated Mary, an African-American woman small businesswoman who asked MailOnline not to publish her last name. She was leaving the Inova Alexandria Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia with two family members.
‘I had chest pains last night, and they took me in the emergency room,’ Mary said. ‘They told me they were going to admit me, but when I told them I hadn’t heard from my insurance company since I signed up, they changed their tune.’
She told MailOnline that a nurse advised her that her bill would go up by at least $3,000 if she were admitted for a day, and her doctor told her the decision was up to her.
‘Should I be in the hospital? Probably,’ she said. ‘Maybe it’s one of those borderline cases. I have to think that if I were really in danger, they wouldn’t give me the choice. But what if I think I’m covered and I’m really not?’
‘The emergency room bill is going to be bad enough.’
Remember, the stated reason Democrats are putting us all through this ordeal was to make insurance coverage available to people who didn’t have it before. Those people are going to be exceptionally confused when they try to use their expensive new benefits and discover they’re still on the hook for enormous out-of-pocket expenses, to say nothing of getting turned away because the lousy Soviet-surplus computer system can’t even determine if they have coverage.
As for the people who used to have coverage, but ran afoul of Obama’s Big Lie and saw their plans canceled, Democrats are still trying to push back against this disgrace by claiming that “only” half a million people (the Obama Administration), or maybe as few as 10,000 people (congressional Democrats) will end the year without coverage due to ObamaCare. Even that lowball number from the Democrat caucus is not at all what they promised, over and over again, when they were ramming the Affordable Care Act through Congress. Also, those who lost their preferred plans and were able to make other arrangements before December 31 still count as betrayed by Obama’s Big Lie. They were just fortunate enough to work something out with their providers, saving them from the hell of the ObamaCare exchanges… which, incidentally, received a 59 percent negative rating from users according to Gallup, with 29 percent “very negative.” Let’s see how those numbers look after the hospital and clinic chaos of January.
More vignettes of confusion from the Associated Press:
In Burlington, Vt., the state’s largest hospital had almost two dozen patients seek treatment with new health insurance policies, but more than half of those did not have insurance cards. Minnesota’s health care exchange said 53,000 people had enrolled for coverage through its marketplace, but it was unable to confirm the insurance status of an additional 19,000 people who created accounts but did not appear to have purchased plans.
In Connecticut, officials were pleading for patience as call centers fielded calls from people who are concerned because they had yet to receive a bill for premiums or an insurance identification card.
“This is an unprecedented time, because there are a record number of people who have applied for coverage with an effective date of Jan. 1,” said Donna Tommelleo, a spokeswoman for the Connecticut Department of Insurance.
[...] Julie Cadorette, 63, of Maynard, Mass., said she has spent dozens of hours on the phone trying to find out the status of her application through Massachusetts Health Connect, which she said she sent by certified mail three months ago. Her current plan ends Jan. 31.
“It’s very hard to deal with them, they’re so behind,” she said Thursday. “When you call them, they ask you specific questions. You can’t ask them any questions.”
That’s pretty sad, considering that Massachusetts was already accustomed to the joys of State-controlled health insurance. Remember how one of Obama’s campaign tactics was claiming Romneycare in Massachusetts was the model for his plan? Somehow I don’t think you’ll be hearing much of that talking point in the future, now that ObamaCare has plunged even Mitt Romney’s old gubernatorial stomping grounds into chaos.
Just imagine how things must be going in a big state like California! Oh, wait, we don’t have to imagine. The Associated Press checked in with them, too:
In California, employees of the state health exchange were still going through some 19,000 paper applications sent in the early days after Covered California launched on Oct. 1, spokesman Dana Howard said. He could not say how many were outstanding.
The entire tracking system was “in a sort of chaos” Thursday as consumers tried to use or confirm their new insurance, said Kelly Fristoe, an insurance agent in Wichita Falls, Texas.
“I’ve got pharmacies that are calling in to verify benefits on these new plans that are getting incorrect information,” he said. “I have people that are calling to make their initial premium payment, and they’ve been on hold for maybe three or four hours at a time and then they get hung up on.”
And we’re only three days into this nightmare. Depending on how seriously one takes the Administration’s claims of 2.1 million “enrollees,” and the failure rate for information relayed from the ObamaCare exchanges to insurance providers, we could be looking at 700,000 to 1 million people in coverage limbo. Obviously, most of them haven’t tried seeing a doctor or filling a prescription… yet. A report at The Hill says everyone in the industry is bracing themselves for a “spike” of activity next week, which is when gale-force winds of wackiness will truly begin howling across the fruited plain. Wal-Mart and Walgreens are already offering to hand out a free month of prescriptions, with no upfront cost, to ObamaCare victims… er, customers… through the end of January.
And while the private sector he despises has once again saved Obama’s bacon, it doesn’t sound like doctors are going to play along with these seat-of-the-pants fixes for long:
Dr. John Venetos, a Chicago gastroenterologist, said there was “tremendous uncertainty and anxiety” among patients calling his office.
“They’re not sure if they have coverage. It puts the heavy work on the physician,” Venetos said. “At some point, every practice is going to make a decision about how long can they continue to see these patients for free if they are not getting paid.”
Did you enjoy President Obama’s caricature of your profession as a bunch of profiteering tonsil-thieving vampires back in 2009, Dr. Venetos? Just wait until he tears into you after you start refusing patients due to ObamaCare insurance chaos.
It’s not just ObamaCare policy purchases in turmoil, either. Both the Daily Mail and Associated Press mention the Medicaid applicants stuck in limbo because the system can’t process them, either. Yesterday we heard of 16,000 Iowans caught in this Sargasso Sea of incompetence; the AP speaks of another 25,000 in Pennsylvania.
No doubt Democrats will portray all this as a small price to pay for the Great Health Care Leap Forward, having made an ice-cold political calculation that they can live without the votes of the people who spent hours of their valuable time fighting a bug-riddled system to buy insurance they can’t even use. They’re gambling that general public discontent can be kept under control, while some the people suffering through January (and probably February) chaos can persuaded to forget their tribulations when it’s time to hit the ballot boxes this year. They’re already trying to make everyone forget about the humiliating launch-pad detonation of the ObamaCare system in October. But as we can see from today’s chaos, it matters that the system wasn’t ready for prime time when it was launched. The shock waves from that botched rollout will rumble throughout the year to come. And for some of the people who showed up at hospitals and clinics to use coverage that doesn’t really exist, the results are a lot more than merely “inconvenient.”
Update: If you think ObamaCare is confusing now, just wait until you try to add a new baby to your health insurance plan. The statist geniuses who designed this boondoggle forgot to add that capability to the system. It’s not so great at handling other “life changes affecting a consumer’s taxpayer-subsidized premiums” either, according to the Associated Press… such as “marriage and divorce, a death in the family, a new job or a change in income, even moving to a different community.”
Americans asked to refrain from doing any of those things until President Obama blows another hundred million dollars of your money updating the exchange software to add new features, such as a “Have you died recently?” check box for the subsidy calculator.