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October 8, 2013 at 9:16 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

The Healthcare Marketplace: Ready, Set, Hold!

By Jeffrey VanWingen M.D. More Blogs by This Author

This week marked an important milestone in the American healthcare system. On October 1st, the Health Insurance Marketplace - a government-sponsored website facilitating the purchase of health insurance - went live... Kind of. The buzz over this website magnified as October 1st grew closer for this first public leg of the "Obamacare" plan. Opponents and proponents weighed in, and the interested parties saw the dawn of this new era, putting health insurance quotes on the same level as auto insurance or hotel bookings on Priceline. We held our breath, clicked "go," and then... held.


The Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA) was created to help solve America's healthcare crisis. This complex program began rolling after much targeting and even a supreme court ruling on its Constitutionality. The medical field was the first to sample the AHA with market incentives to acquire technology, improve communications, and meet certain benchmarks in care.

As the medical field continues to conform to these guidelines, the public is now called on to acquire health insurance. While having health insurance will not be mandatory, stiff tax penalties will apply if an American does not have insurance by January 1, 2014. In this phase, the government will also be expanding Medicaid coverage for those who cannot afford insurance.

My Marketplace Experience

Screenshot of the official"Obamacare" website

On October 1st, I Googled "healthcare marketplace," and my browser came up with over two million hits. Atop the list were private insurance brokers flagged as "paid advertisements."  It was clear that many were vying to cash in on all this new commerce. Eventually, I found the official  government site. I explored some helpful education links in the user-friendly format. I then put in my home state of Michigan to hit the actual marketplace, and I was immediately put on hold. The prompt screen told me not to divert and that I should keep my place in the cue. Four hours later, the screen still hadn't budged. I found this same screen waiting for me when checking back in days later.

The Fallout

You might have guessed it. Everybody's pointing fingers; everybody's blaming. Opponents claim this is only the beginning of the broken, painful mess that is "Obamacare." Insurance agents who make their wages on brokering health insurance are spreading vitriol due to their own job insecurity. Proponents blame the opposition for stalling and deliberately sabotaging progress. And America, the "bewildered herd" as referred to by Noam Chomsky, is eating up the fear and discontent.

Where Do We Go from Here?

The stage is set for some crazy times. When healthcare and politics become entwined, both the best and the worst in people come out. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt was right when he said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Fearful Americans and their quick judgment are my greatest fears in this mess. Amid the chaos, one thing is clear to me as someone who has been in healthcare for the last 20 years: Our system is broken, and something needs to be done.

As such, I'll be patient with a system that is obviously congested and has some bugs that need to be worked out. Think positive, America! A "can't do" attitude goes against everything that has made this country great.

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  • I'm not happy about being forced to buy the services of companies that lobby the same government who in turn fines us if we don't have the services of those companies.

    In theory the marketplace would be great if/when it works. Competition breeds lower prices, but that's only true if price fixing is punished. Of course that's not going to happen. Why? Cause the insurance companies pay lobbyist to make sure it doesn't. Act like the insurance companies, the hospitals, and the government aren't all in same bed together boosting the costs. The more it costs the more they make.

    What part of more patients means lower costs? NONE OF IT! Why? Cause it's completely opposite of the LAW of supply and demand. More patients means more demand. More demand means more costs for larger med centers, more beds, more meds, more care professionals. You think we're going to cover everyone with the resources we have now? You're dreaming if you do. Nothing will be cheaper, but now everyone, errrr... wait some people don't have to pay at all, I forgot about that. Still most are forced to pay the higher prices due to the higher demand and greater drain of services.

    Obamacare is a massive power grab hiding behind a facade of helping everyone. Cause what heartless person will fight that? The more power you give the government the more power you give the companies with the money to persuade political leaders. Not to mention the personal data mine that is the medical system. I bet the NSA is licking its chops now that government has access to EVERYONE'S DNA, illness records, surgical records, allergies, etc.

    Just hammer in one more coffin nail for American liberty and personal freedom. Bury it right next to the free enterprise system we killed off decades ago.

  • The website (and the ineptitude of its developers) seems to be a whole other issue apart from the politics. It's one thing when you're a little startup and have to suddenly scale to handle an influx of users, but c'mon! The U.S. population didn't go from 100 to millions overnight.

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