If you have visited The Insurance Barn before you already know two things about me.
First, I am not a fan of the Individual Mandate in Obamacare. I know that the insurance companies have told the politicians that it is the only way for them to avoid Adverse Selection.
I am not convinced that it is not just a way for insurance companies to make even more money.
I am also not convinced that the government has a right to tell anyone how to spend their money.
Second, I am not impressed by the way the White House is implementing the provisions of Obamacare.
Unless you have been out of the country for an extended part of 2013, you have already heard about the delays that have been granted by the Obama Administration. You have also heard about the problems CMS has had setting up the Federally Facilitated Exchanges. (Members of the Obama administration are already making excuses for the problems their systems will have.)
In today’s post, I am not going to talk any further about those issues. You are probably already sick of hearing about them. Rather I want to mention 3 things that have happened in the last 10 days that have refueled my anger over Obamacare.
1) INTERNET CONTEST
About a week ago, Secretary of Health and Human Services announced a video contest to promote enrollment in Obamacare. She has promised to give up to $30,000 in prizes for the best home-made videos to reach young America.
It is not the prize money that bothers me, although I do see it as a waste of taxpayer’s money, as much as it is the federal government giving permission to young adults to ignore state laws.
Most states require a license by anyone who gives other than “incidental” advice about insurance. This contest encourages young adults, who are not licensed and have no experience in insurance, to use their creativity to advertise and give advice about insurance.
I do not know the laws in all 50 states, but I do know that insurance advertising in my home state is heavily regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance.
If you have read this blog before, you may notice that I do not mention insurance companies or products by name without linking to their “approved materials.” It is a violation of my state’s insurance code.
If I want to create a new piece of advertising, it must be approved by a battery of lawyers who are familiar with the insurance advertising regulations in my state. I am not free to use my own “creativity.”
I am disappointed that a former Insurance Commissioner would allow young adults to ignore state advertising regulations in order to promote a political program.
2) SEPARATION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE
On Monday President Obama met with leaders of African-American churches. The topic of discussion in the White House was how to motivate local pastors to encourage their “flocks” to enroll in government programs through the new health insurance exchanges.
I am not a constitutional lawyer. I guess I need to have it explained to me why the president can enlist the help of churches to promote his pet political program but a 15 year-old kid cannot offer a prayer to his god for safety before a high school football game.
It seems to me that if church and state are to be kept separated, they need to be kept apart.
3) CMS INTERNET PROBLEMS
I have completed all the “training” required by HHS to be certified to help people who want to enroll in a government program through the Federally Facilitated Exchange.
I was disappointed that my “training” consisted entirely of propaganda in support of Obamacare and no glimpses of the new CMS computer interface at all. Even though I am “trained” I have to wait to see what the computer exchange looks like and how it functions.
Yesterday, I had my first experience with a computer program built by CMS. I was told that it would take less than 30 minutes for me to register my “training” and National Producer Number with HHS.
Seventy minutes, and 3 telephone transfers later, I am not further along than I was the day before. The CMS identification site would not even allow me to register to get on the site. The furthest I got was the CMS landing page.
I became frustrated for a couple of reasons. My first thought was that I could not afford the time that was being wasted dealing with government autocracies.
I tried not to think selfishly but I could not help wonder, “If I am having this bad of an experience, what will my clients experience if I refer them to the exchanges?”
In light of the experience I had with a CMS computer program yesterday, I have the following pieces of advice.
- If you do not qualify, or want to claim, government subsidies and programs, buy your Obamacare approved health insurance directly from an insurance company. Avoid using Federally Facilitated Exchanges.
- If you do qualify for, and want to claim, a government subsidy or program, wait as long as possible to enroll through an exchange. The longer you wait, the more time CMS has to identify and correct problems.
The above advice does not apply to state-based exchanges. My only experience has been with computer programs developed by CMS. I cannot comment on the programs developed in the 16 states plus the District of Columbia, who have elected to build their own computer systems. In theory, they have completed testing and corrective actions that Federally Facilitated Exchanges have not.