How many of us have tuned out the never ending Tea Party crazy rhetorical drum beat blasting Obamacare? With people whose only purpose in life is to shaft the middle class and poor, as a result, such folk have lost all credibility with most of America and thus tune them out we do. Over and over again we see the Republican agenda is clearly to stiff Americans on benefits they have earned, such as social security and Medicare. So, most who are sane pay no attention to the rancor, noise and banter Most of America knows these crazy folk oppose Obamacare on ideological reasons only. They will do anything to deny health care to the poor and middle America. Yet Houston, we have a problem, it looks like on Obamacare these very crazy people just might have a point.
To be clear, what the Republicans are doing now by shutting down the government and threatening the good credit of the United States should be an impeachable offense. Yet, now that the health insurance exchanges are open, we discover they are crashing over a week later and worse, team Obama hired foreigners to design healthcare.gov.
As pressure mounts on the administration to fix the issue in order to avoid widespread dissatisfaction among the American people, rather than reach out to tech support experts in America, the Obama administration has contacted the Canadian tech firm, GCI Federal, a subsidiary of Montréal-based CGI Group to fix the exchanges. To date the administration has bestowed the Canadian company with $1.4 billion in federal contracts, according to USApending.gov.
The US Department of Health and Human Services has already awarded GCI $55.7 million to launch healthcare.gov. The company is also the one that provide service to Canada’s single-payer healthcare system.
It never ceases to amaze how just how much money is poured into bad government websites. It is truly astounding when supposedly American companies are the best in the world and there are so many unemployed with tech skills, the government cannot manage to hire Americans and American companies to do the job. When we say Americans, we do not mean IBM and other such companies who fire those with U.S. citizenship and bring in foreign guest workers. We mean those with U.S. citizenship.
Now the truth is coming out on healthcare.gov. The Obama administration is still claiming the exchange website flaws is due to the large traffic visiting the site, yet American engineers are analyzing and railing against the poor design. Think about the millions of dollars and three and a half years to get a website working when most American techies can find the technical problems in a matter of minutes. This is how poorly designed the site is. Even the IEEE is pointing out the technical flaws and is mentioning the obvious security.
It is actually much worst than yet another example of our government spending millions on contracts instead of hiring America citizens directly to design websites. The online exchanges are using private credit reporting agencies to verify your information and credit reports are notorious to have errors. Many politically independent notables with feet firmly planted on the functional and practical ground are slamming the system. Paul Craig Roberts calls Obamacare another private sector ripoff of Americans:
Obamacare works for the insurance companies, but not for the uninsured. The cost of using Obamacare is prohibitive for those who most need the health coverage. The cost of the premiums net of the government subsidy is large. It amounts to a substantial pay cut for people struggling to pay their bills. In addition to the premium cost, it is prohibitive for hard pressed Americans to use the policies because of the deductibles and co-pays. For the very poor, who are thrown into Medicaid systems, any assets they might have, such as a home, are subject to confiscation to cover their Medicaid bills. The only people other than the insurance companies who benefit from Obamacare are the down and out who are devoid of all assets.
Worse, the way the subsidies are calculated is annual and do not account for changing financial conditions. The system is guaranteed to invade privacy, send social security numbers to God knows where on a technically flawed website that surely hackers are salivating over. But the bottom line in health insurance is it appears many people are ending up paying way more in premiums and receiving less coverage The subsidy is determined on a modified adjusted gross income and of course it's confusing as hell, but if one doesn't qualify for a subsidy, bottom line, insurance premiums went through the roof. Actual individual coverage, though redefining what is in network, a host of new copays and out of pockets, the benefits appear stripped, especially for the bronze level policies. The gold insurance policies appear more like what mediocre insurance used to be and to date we have not found any policy where one wouldn't go to the poor house if seriously ill, same as it is in 2013. We recommend reading this post on how the subsidy calculation works and the problems with it. If you haven't checked what policies are even available for 2014 it's a good idea to find out what the plans are.
As usual individuals are getting the shaft on health insurance while businesses and unions get exemptions and don't face a penalty. One example shows an individual's $144 a month policy was canceled and in it's place was a $600 a month policy with only 50% coverage. The provider network had been replaced by predefined, small, geographical areas as well. Needless to say in rural areas, small geographical areas might not have any physician within them, never mind a competent one. Clearly people travel which implies one would be out of network in the case of an emergency by these insurance companies redefining in network to be a small geographical area. Premiums and policies do vary greatly state by state and by age, so one really needs to check and finding the specifics, as in the contract terms is a hunt and peck. Additionally the only pre-existing condition getting priced out of purchasing any health insurance are smokers with a 50% additional surcharge attached to the insurance premium. Heroin and Meth addicts are covered with no surcharge as well as the grossly overweight, only smokers are singled out to guarantee they will not be able to afford coverage at all. Across the nation we're hearing various reports of sticker shock on insurance premiums with much less coverage, so the only way you're going to know is to check it yourself. Younger people are getting the shaft with much higher premiums as a general rule.
To be clear, we need true single payer universal health care as almost every other industrialized nation. The fact is America spends 17.7% of GDP on health care costs, and soars in comparison to other nations. The OECD estimates the United States spends 2.5 times more in health care costs than the other countries, has lower life expectancy despite now having low smoking rates. America has less physicians, hospital beds and shorter stays than other OECD nations. The United States spends way more on pharmaceuticals and general medical care and this is directly related to the for profit, private health care industry. It is prices. Hospitals and drugs are 60% more than other industrialized nations. Procedures are priced higher and private administration costs are through the roof. Below is a OECD graph showing general breakdown of health expenditures of the United States vs. other nations to show the disparity.
It is a shame House Republicans used Obamacare as a hostage taking of the government maneuver. As a precedent, one simply cannot negotiate with those holding an economic gun to America's head. We have a funny feeling if the GOP had said nothing, most of America would be demanding change on Obamacare for it clearly is a boondoggle, designed for insurance companies and yet another shaft to Americans overall. This is in spite of some of the good aspects, such as stopping insurance companies denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Of course the GOP won't endorse and pass universal single payer health care to save their souls, despite the overwhelming statistics from other nations this is what's needed to reduce costs, the deficit and provide Americans with health care. The latest proposals by the GOP involve dismantling Medicare, so don't expect a practical solution that helps America anytime soon. America has no doubt been in the frying pan for sometime on health care. Question is did Obamacare just put us into the fire? If so, due to the incredible war over Obamacare and for the wrong reasons, it is possible health care will sink the nation since it is a prime example of doing what is economically sound and humanely practical is obviously impossible for America's politicians to even contemplate.
Update: The horrific design of healthcare.gov is coming to light with Obama claiming to now bring in the best and the brightest, which unfortunately for him means H-1B foreign guest workers instead of Americans most likely. Of course the main contractor blowing $634 million on this ridiculous website used H-1B foreign guest workers instead of Americans. They also lobbied heavily. We warned about corruption in government IT contracts with Obama's selection of Vivek Kundra as Obama's CIO.
Prior to the official award, senior CGI executives met with top White House officials and attended a number of invitation-only addresses by President Obama.
According to the logs, CGI Federal President Donna Ryan visited the White House six times prior to her company being selected to do the IT design work behind the high-profile website.
Two of the meetings attended by CGI executives were with Vivek Kundra, Obama’s chief information officer. Kundra was a key figure in Obama administration information technology initiatives across the government.