The Healthcare Marketplace: Ready, Set, Hold!
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 HealthCare.gov.
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.
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.