The Democrats think they can do National Health Care better than Britain despite the Obamacare Website Rollout Disaster

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 30th, 2014

Week in Review

Those on the left settled for the Affordable Care Act.  It’s not what they wanted.  But they think it can, in time, give them what they want.  Single-payer health care.  Or a true national health care system.  Like they have in Britain.  Oh how the left would love to have a no nonsense National Health Service (NHS) in the United States.  A system totally funded by general taxation.  Because that would be better than Obamacare.  And far better than what Obamacare replaced.  Now those who think that are either lying to the American people.  Or are completely ignorant to what’s going on in the NHS.  For the highly esteemed NHS is on life support (see £10 each can save the NHS by Norman Warner and Jack O’Sullivan posted 3/30/2014 on the guardian).

A care and cash crisis is sending the NHS bust. In its present form, a shortfall of £30bn a year, or more, is expected by 2020. Paying off the nation’s deficit means five more years of further deep public expenditure cuts, whoever is in government. So, over-protecting an outdated, cosseted and unaffordable healthcare system inevitably means starving other vital public services, unless we choke off economic growth and worsen the cost of living with big tax increases. That might be worth contemplating if the NHS was offering brilliant care. But it isn’t.

Just look at the thousands of frail elderly people who get the care they need only by queuing in A&E and spending weeks in hospital – the most expensive and often the worst way to look after them. And let’s not forget that the NHS is sleepwalking through an obesity epidemic.

These are truths hidden from public view. Many politicians and clinicians are scared to tell people that our much-loved 65-year-old NHS no longer meets the country’s needs. Frankly, it is often poor value for money, and the greatest public spending challenge after the general election…

Our specialist hospital services should be concentrated in fewer, safer, better-equipped and more expert centres with 24/7 consultant cover and improved transport links…

A new integrated “National Health and Care Service” would pioneer a “co-producing” health partnership between state and citizen, with annual personal health MOTs agreeing responsibilities over the year for both services and the individual. At the heart of this relationship would be an NHS membership scheme, charging £10 a month (with some exemptions) collected through council tax for local preventative services to help people stay healthy.

This is one of several new funding streams urgently needed to renew impoverished parts of our care system but preserving a mainly tax-funded NHS that is largely free at the point of use. We have to escape the constraints of general taxation if we want a decent system…

Just 3.5% of the annual 500,000 deaths lead to payment of inheritance tax. We must expect the elderly, after their deaths, to contribute more. NHS free entitlements, such as continuing care, could be reduced or means-tested and hotel costs in hospital charged, as in France and Germany.

Britain has an aging population.  Fewer people are entering the workforce to pay the taxes that fund the NHS.  While more people are leaving the workforce and consuming NHS resources.  So less money is going into the NHS while the NHS is spending more and more money on patients.  Leading to a deficit that they can’t pay for without killing the economy.  Or taking money away from other government services.

If the NHS was providing quality health care they could probably justify taking money away from other areas.  But it’s not.  The one argument for passing Obamacare was that it would reduce the burden on emergency rooms.  But it’s not doing that in Britain.  The wait times are so long to see a doctor or get a procedure that people are going to the emergency room (A/E in Britain) and waiting for hours instead of waiting for months.  Further increasing costs and wait times.  And frustrating patients.

So what is the solution to a failing national health care system?  Close hospitals and make people travel further for treatment.  And charge them £10 ($16.64) monthly in addition to some of the highest tax rates they already pay to fund the NHS.  So, to summarize, to make national health care work in Britain they need to close hospitals, make people travel further for care, charge them more money and make them wait longer for treatment.  Which is basically the argument against the Affordable Care Act.  It would lead to rationing.  And longer wait times.  Worse, the quality of care will decline.  As it has in Britain.  As it will in the United States.  For we also have an aging population.  And we have about five-times the people they have in Britain.  Which will make our problems five-times worse than theirs.

What’s happening in the NHS is no secret.  Any proponent of national health care no doubt looks at Britain and their NHS.  So they must be familiar with how it’s failing.  Yet they press on for a similar system in the United States.  Why?  If it won’t improve our health care system why do they want national health care?  This is the question we should be asking the Democrats.  Why?  Of course they will say Britain just isn’t doing national health care right.  After all, they’ve only been doing it for 66 years.  So what do they know about national health care?  While we, the liberal Democrats will say, will get national health care right from the get-go.  Because we are just so much smarter than everyone else in the world.

Of course the British could, and should, fire back with, “Yeah?  How did that Obamacare website rollout go?  You’d think that someone who is so smart that they could do national health care right from the get-go could actually build a sodding website that works.”

But, of course, they didn’t.  And the website was the easiest part of Obamacare.  A one and done thing.  And if they couldn’t do that right do we really want these people anywhere near our health care?  No.  Especially when the British are struggling with national health care after trying it for 66 years.  For national health care is apparently more difficult to do than building a sodding website that works.

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National Health Care would only be as good as the Obamacare Rollout

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 2nd, 2014

Week in Review

The Affordable Care Act was passed into law in 2010.  The Obamacare website opened for enrollment in 2013.  Just under 4 years since its passage.  That’s a lot of time to build a website.  But they couldn’t do it.  The rollout of the Affordable Care Act was an embarrassment for the Obama administration as the website was plagued with problems.  People struggled to get on it in the beginning.  The enrollment information did not make it to the insurers.  The backend of the site that processed payments was apparently not built yet.  And security experts have said the sight is so insecure that no one should use it.  Then we find out this (see Obamacare computers not yet equipped to fix errors: report by Peter Cooney and Roberta Rampton posted 2/2/2014 on Reuters).

The HealthCare.gov website is not yet equipped to handle appeals by thousands of people seeking to correct errors the system made when they were signing up for the new federal healthcare law, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

The newspaper, citing sources familiar with the situation, said appeals by about 22,000 people were sitting untouched in a government computer.

“And an unknown number of consumers who are trying to get help through less formal means — by calling the health-care marketplace directly — are told that HealthCare.gov’s computer system is not yet allowing federal workers to go into enrollment records and change them,” according to the Post.

You can just feel Jon Stewart’s frustration over those in government.  As the government wants to get ever bigger to make our lives supposedly better.  But veterans’ benefits are held up because computer networks can’t talk to each other.  They couldn’t build a functioning website in 4 years’ time despite it costing hundreds of millions of dollars.  And now this.  If there was ever a case against national health care this pattern of failure and ineptitude is it.  And the last thing we want these stumblebums responsible for is our health.  Unless you want national health care as good as the Obamacare rollout.

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Obama Job Approval has Fallen over the Last Year

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 23rd, 2014

Politics 101

Ten Different Obama Job Approval Polls show Higher Disapproves than Approves

President Obama did not have a good 2013.  Especially near the end.  Because of the Obamacare rollout.  With the website being a disaster.  The enrollment numbers weren’t as projected.  Or needed.  And then all the cancellations in the individual market.  As people learned they couldn’t keep the policies and doctors they liked.  Which gave President Obama the recognition for being the best in at least one thing.  As PolitiFact named “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” as the lie of the year.

The bad news continued into 2014.  The Obamacare enrollee numbers didn’t improve.  Most of the enrollees are the old and sick.  Not the young and healthy the Obama administration told the health insurers would be enrolling.  Which is breaking the economic model.  Guaranteeing not only that health insurance premiums will rise.  But some health care providers are actually requiring payment up front before providing services.  As they are not sure what the insurers will pay.  Making Obamacare an even bigger disaster.  Which is a big factor in driving President Obama’s job approval rating down (see President Obama Job Approval posted on Real Clear Politics).

President Obama Job Approval R1

The ten polls included in the RCP Average all share one thing in common.  They all have larger disapproval numbers than approval numbers.  With the average disapproval number being 8.4 points greater than the average approval number.  However you look at these numbers they are not good for President Obama.  For they say President Obama has not been good for the United States.

People don’t Trust President Obama and are beginning to Doubt his Past Claims of Accomplishment

Growing numbers of people don’t trust the president anymore.  Including those who were Obama supporters.  Who because of the ‘lie of the year’ don’t look at those other scandals as opposition propaganda anymore.  These scandals (Benghazi, IRS targeting conservatives, spying on journalists, spying on Americans, Fast and Furious, Solyndra, ‘recess’ appointments, executive orders to bypass the will of the people/Congress, etc.) are now just other things not to trust the president about.  The president has been less than honest to get what he wants (power).  While the American people don’t get what they want (jobs, affordable health care, etc.).  And it’s because of this that his job approval has entered a steady decline.

President Obama Job Approval Graph R1

Following a bump during the 2012 election Obama’s job approval has trended down.  The Obama administration lied about what happened in Benghazi to help their reelection chances.  Where the campaign message was that al Qaeda was on the run.  Which is apparently why the State Department under Secretary Clinton denied Ambassador Steven’s request for additional security to combat the resurgent al Qaeda in Libya.  As the recent bipartisan Senate report stated that the killing of four Americans in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11 could have been prevented.

Benghazi, the NSA spying on us, the ‘lie of the year’ and the other scandals have had their affect on the American people.  And after the Target point-of-sale credit card hack people are very suspect of the Obamacare website.  Especially when a security consulting firm says there is no security on the Obamacare website yet the Obama administration keeps telling us to trust them.  They’ll keep our data safe.  Even though Target couldn’t.  And they have functioning security systems in place.  Unlike Obamacare.  That has none.  So people don’t trust President Obama.  And they’re beginning to doubt his past claims of accomplishment.  As well as those rosy jobs reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Lie of the Year appears to have Broken the Spell Obama held over some of his Admirers

The Democrat’s Keynesian economic policies created yet another housing bubble.  By keeping interest rates artificially low and relaxing credit standards they stimulated the housing market.  And housing prices soared.  But buyers didn’t seem to care.  Because they were borrowing the money to buy these overpriced houses.  Because of those low interest rates.  Even people who couldn’t afford to buy a house were buying a house. Thanks to subprime lending like the adjustable rate mortgage (ARM).  But when interest rates rose so did those monthly payments on those ARMs.  People couldn’t afford their mortgage payments anymore.  And defaulted.  Giving us the subprime mortgage crisis.  Which turned into the Great Recession.

The Democrats blamed the banks for the Great Recession.  Not their Keynesian policies.  Or President Clinton’s heavy hand on lenders to qualify the unqualified for mortgages (see Bill Clinton created the Subprime Mortgage Crisis with his Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending posted 11/6/2011 on PITHOCRATES).  Not only did they deflect blame for the crisis they used the crisis to implement further Keynesian policies.  A near-trillion dollar stimulus bill.  Much of which went to Obama’s ‘friends’ in the green energy industry.  And to their friends in unions.  The government spent a lot of money.  They kept interest rates artificially low.  And when that didn’t work they used quantitative easing.  Basically printing money.  The Obama administration said their policies were working.  And declared the summer of 2010 ‘Recovery Summer’.  The recession was over.  Since then they highlighted the new jobs created with every jobs report.  While ignoring the number of people who have left the labor force.  Greatly skewing the numbers.  And grossly understating the real unemployment rate (see Wall Street adviser: Actual unemployment is 37.2%, ‘misery index’ worst in 40 years by Paul Bedard posted 1/21/2014 on the Washington Examiner).

Don’t believe the happy talk coming out of the White House, Federal Reserve and Treasury Department when it comes to the real unemployment rate and the true “Misery Index.” Because, according to an influential Wall Street advisor, the figures are a fraud…

…the Misery Index, which is a calculation based in inflation and unemployment, both numbers the duo say are underscored by the government. He said that the Index doesn’t properly calculate how Uncle Sam is propping up the economy with bond purchases and other actions.

“These tricks, along with a host of other dubious accounting schemes, underreport inflation by about 3 percent,” they wrote, adding that the official inflation rate is just 1.24 percent.

“Today, the Misery Index would be 7.54 using official numbers,” they wrote. But if calculations tabulating the full national unemployment including discouraged workers, which is 10.2 percent, and the historical method of calculating inflation, which is now 4.5 percent, ‘the current misery index is closer to 14.7, worse even than during the Ford administration.”

The 1970s were the heyday of Keynesian economics.  With spending out of control Richard Nixon did something that Keynesians longed for.  He decoupled the dollar from gold.  Allowing the Fed to print money like there was no tomorrow.  Igniting inflation.  And when the inflation rate was added to the unemployment rate it gave us a record Misery Index.  Until now, that is.  If you use the real data.  And not the ‘massaged’ data that makes their Keynesian policies appear to be working.  Telling us the recession ended in 2010.  When many feel the Great Recession has never ended.  Which is yet another reason not to trust the Obama administration.  Or not approve of the job President Obama is doing.  As the polls have been showing this past year.  And it’s not just because of Obamacare.  But the ‘lie of the year’ appears to have broken the spell he held over some of his admirers.  Who can now see the king is wearing no clothes.  No matter what his administration and those in the mainstream media say.

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Is it a Bad Omen for Obamacare Website that Hackers compromised President Obama’s Twitter Account?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 2nd, 2013

Week in Review

It’s a brave new world out there.  An electronic world of convenience and pleasure.  On demand 24/7.  Wherever we are.  But this convenience comes at a price (see President Obama’s Twitter account compromised after Syrian group hacks into link-shortener by Adam Edelman posted 10/28/2013 on the Daily News).

President Obama’s Twitter account was briefly compromised Monday after a shady online group hacked into the link-shortening service used by Obama’s social media team.

Well that doesn’t bode well for the security of the Obamacare website or the massive database the government will be keeping our personal data in. 

According to CNBC, the group, which has claimed responsibility in the past for other big cyber-attacks, didn’t actually hack into the President’s account.

Rather, it breached the link-shortener tool, which send out truncated links to Internet URLs, used by his social media team.

The tool, a custom third-party link-shortener, was used by the President’s Organizing for Action group and is not affiliated with Twitter.

Oh, so it wasn’t a government account that got hacked.  That’s good.  Wait a minute, if they can hack into a tool millions use successfully and with ease then surely they can hack into a system so poorly designed that it doesn’t even work.  A system that tells its users they have no expectations of privacy.  Did they include that disclaimer because the system is so poorly designed that it is a hacker’s paradise?  Or is it because they are going to share that data with all of their political cronies to help them in the next election?  Whichever it is the people won’t like it.

Makes you pine for the good old days when your phone was on the kitchen wall.  And you read your news in a newspaper.  And actually enjoyed opening your mail.  Those were the days.  All the way back to the ancient 1980s.  When the only worry you had in the world was the Soviet Union starting a thermonuclear war.  Which seems at times less frightening than what can happen today.  For the odds of thermonuclear war were so great that it didn’t weigh on your mind every day.  Unlike the odds that the government will collect our most private information in such an unsecured fashion that hackers will steal it.  And use it to financially ruin us.

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Cash Piñatas and Obamacare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 28th, 2013

Economics 101

Health Insurance provides Financial Protection from Risk unlike Obamacare

A lot of people are talking about Obamacare.  The poor website launch.  People losing the insurance policies and doctors they liked and wanted to keep.  Higher insurance premiums.  And higher deductibles.  All of which conflicts with what President Obama had promised.

So there are problems.  And people are becoming less enamored with Obamacare now that it is personally touching their lives.  But there is a bigger problem.  Obamacare isn’t insurance.  And that’s what a lot of people don’t even understand.  Even some insurance agents.  Who may only see those higher premium prices and think Obamacare is a one-way ticket to easy street.  But if you understand insurance, economics and history you’ll see it’s not.  So what is insurance?  Here’s a definition from Investopedia:  

A contract (policy) in which an individual or entity receives financial protection or reimbursement against losses from an insurance company. The company pools clients’ risks to make payments more affordable for the insured.

The key word in this definition is ‘risk’.  Insurance provides financial protection from risk.  Obamacare doesn’t do that.  It forces people to pay for things they have no risk exposure to.  For example, an older couple with adult children still needs pediatric coverage on their policy.  Which just increases the cost of their insurance.  While providing no financial protection from this particular risk.  Sick children.

Premiums and Deductibles are Soaring to herd the Young and Healthy into the Government Exchanges

So why is Obamacare raising health insurance premiums?  To pay for people who don’t pay into the insurance pool.  The poor.  And the very sick who can’t afford health care let alone health insurance.  The higher premiums people are paying go to them.  This is a cost transfer.  From a higher income group to a lower income group.  Or in other words, a redistribution of wealth.  From those according to ability to those according to need.

So the president wasn’t exactly telling the truth about keeping your insurance and doctor if you wanted to.  This can’t happen under Obamacare.  Because to redistribute wealth you need to take it away from someone.  And guess who that someone must be to make Obamacare work?  The young and healthy who are buying health insurance.  Those people who pay into the insurance pool for financial protection from risk.  But who are generally healthy and receive no benefits from the insurance pool.  Who President Obama and the Democrats look at as cash piñatas.  Which they can’t whack open if they have private insurance policies.

This is why these people must lose the policies and doctors they like.  And why premiums and deductibles are soaring.  To herd these cash piñatas into the government exchanges.  Where the government can collect their insurance premiums.  And redistribute it.  While those high deductibles keep those premiums going out as benefits to the cash piñatas to a minimum.

The Young and Healthy choosing Medicaid over Obamacare

Of course, there is a flaw in this grand strategy.  Arrogance.  The government believing that young and healthy people will just stand there while the government whacks them open to get their cash.  Which they aren’t.  And it’s just not because the Obamacare website is a disaster.  It’s because a lot of these people are choosing Medicaid.  The health care program for the poor.

Medicaid enrollments are far outpacing Obamacare enrollments.  By a huge number.  Which is a big problem.  Because Medicaid enrollees don’t pay insurance premiums.  And they are not subject to deductibles.  Because they are poor and can’t afford to pay anything out of pocket.  So instead of adding to the insurance pool these cash piñatas will take from the pool.  And that won’t change when they fix the broken website.  Which is why it is a fatal flaw.

Compounding this problem is the President’s economic policies that have given us the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression.  Since President Obama assumed office his policies have forced approximately 10 million people from the labor force.  Unemployed, it is unlikely that they will be able to afford health insurance.  And probably will enroll in Medicaid, too.  If they haven’t already.  So Obamacare isn’t going to work as-is.  The question is, what will they do next?  Other than blame the greedy insurance companies?  Whose cooperation in this redistribution of wealth scheme will lead to their own demise.  For as more and more people can’t afford those expensive insurance policies they’ll either turn to Medicaid.  Or demand national health care.  Which people don’t need insurance companies to have.

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Young Obama Supporters take a Knee to the Crotch under Obamacare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 26th, 2013

Week in Review

First it was the government shutdown.  Then it was the disastrous rollout of the Obamacare website.  Both diversions to a bigger tragedy lurking beneath the surface of their rosy predictions of how great Obamacare was going to be.  The truth of how bad Obamacare already is (see Some health insurance gets pricier as Obamacare rolls out by Chad Terhune posted 10/26/2013 on the Los Angeles Times).

Thousands of Californians are discovering what Obamacare will cost them — and many don’t like what they see.

These middle-class consumers are staring at hefty increases on their insurance bills as the overhaul remakes the healthcare market. Their rates are rising in large part to help offset the higher costs of covering sicker, poorer people who have been shut out of the system for years.

Although recent criticism of the healthcare law has focused on website glitches and early enrollment snags, experts say sharp price increases for individual policies have the greatest potential to erode public support for President Obama’s signature legislation.

“This is when the actual sticker shock comes into play for people,” said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. “There are winners and losers under the Affordable Care Act…”

Pam Kehaly, president of Anthem Blue Cross in California, said she received a recent letter from a young woman complaining about a 50% rate hike related to the healthcare law.

“She said, ‘I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it,'” Kehaly said.

Nearly 2 million Californians have individual insurance, and several hundred thousand of them are losing their health plans in a matter of weeks…

A number of factors are driving up rates. In a report this year, consultants hired by the state said the influx of sicker patients as a result of guaranteed coverage was the biggest single reason for higher premiums. Bob Cosway, a principal and consulting actuary at Milliman Inc. in San Diego, estimated that the average individual premium in 2014 will rise 27% because of that difference alone.

Individual policies must also cover a higher percentage of overall medical costs and include 10 “essential health benefits,” such as prescription drugs and mental health services. The aim is to fill gaps in coverage and provide consumers more peace of mind. But those expanded benefits have to be paid for with higher premiums…

“It has the effect of benefiting people in their 50s and 60s and shifting costs to people in their 20s and 30s,” said Patrick Johnston, president of the California Assn. of Health Plans. “Benefits are being increased for all, but it’s not government subsidies for all. Some will pay more.”

Do you have a strange feeling of déjà vu?  I do.  That feeling of already experiencing this before.  But where?  Hmmm.  Oh yes.  Now I remember.  This is exactly what the Republican opposition had warned us about since the Democrats first brought forth the Affordable Care Act.  Guess the Republicans were telling the truth all along.  While the Democrats were lying through their teeth. 

Guess we CAN’T keep the insurance we like after all. 

It is ironic that the people who are some of the biggest Obama supporters, the young people, will get hurt the most under the Affordable Care Act.  Just so the people they’re rebelling against, those stuffy uptight old folks from their parents’ generation, benefit the most.  Imagine that.  The thanks they get for being so supportive of the president is to pay the health care bill of their parents’ generation.  All in the name of fairness. 

What the young must feel reminds me of an episode of SNL with Michael Myers’ Sprockets featuring Germany’s most Disturbing Home Videos.  In particular the home video titled Kicked in the Testicles.  Where the pain is so intense the man must vomit.  That must be how the young supporters of President Obama feel now.

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We have Obamacare because Democrats are Better at Lying than Republicans are at Telling the Truth

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 24th, 2013

Politics 101

President Obama Habitually breaks Every Promise he makes and Suffers no Consequences

President Obama made a promise to Americans as he stumped for the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).  He said if you like your insurance plan you can keep your plan.  If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.  And even those people who did like and want to keep their insurance and doctor would benefit under Obamacare.  Because they would get more for less.  If you do a search on YouTube you can see all sorts of videos where you can hear President Obama make these very promises.  Like this one.

The president was adamant.  He made these promises over and over.  Nothing in his plan would change anything for those happy with what they had.  Period.  He said that a lot.  Period.  These weren’t mere political promises that we expect to be broken as usual.  This was a solemn oath from President Obama.  And we could take that to the bank.  Well, it turns out the American people couldn’t take that to the bank.  For he broke every promise he made.

George Herbert Walker Bush became a one-term president because he said, “Read my lips.  No new taxes.”  And then he made a deal with devious Democrats to raise taxes in exchange for spending cuts.  Spending cuts that never came.  Bush broke one promise and it ended his political career.  While President Obama habitually breaks every promise he makes and suffers no consequences.  At least not yet.  But that may change.

Hackers will call the Obamacare Database the Mother Lode when it comes to Hacking

The whole point of the Affordable Care Act was to make health care affordable for everyone.  So everyone could have health insurance plans that covered everything.   While paying less than they ever had before for health insurance.  So far, though, that hasn’t been happening.  In fact, fewer people have health insurance since Obamacare was rolled out (see More Americans In 3 States Have Had Their Insurance Canceled Under ObamaCare Than Have Filed An Exchange Account In All 50 by Josh Archambault posted 10/24/2013 on Forbes).

This week the reality of the ObamaCare roll-out appeared in a set of news stories that serve as an ironic juxtaposition. Over 500,000 individuals have seen their insurance policies cancelled in just 3 states.  In all 50 states, only 476,000 applications have been “filed” in an exchange. (Even though we are still learning the true definition of “filed.”)…

As I have tracked enrollment by states, many are reporting out both Medicaid and exchange enrollment at the same time.

Therefore the 476,000 number is misleading. My best guess is that for the 17 states that have reported out some data, the number is closer to 193,818 applications (once you pull out the Medicaid applications that have been reported on). Of course, this number is also still too high as it is compromised by the jointly reported data.

People are losing the insurance they like because to keep it requires more than they can afford.  For Obamacare has made the insurance they liked and wanted to keep much more expensive (see Obamacare deductibles a dose of sticker shock by Peter Frost posted 10/13/2013 on the Chicago Tribune).

Many Illinoisans buying health coverage on their own next year will face a similar dilemma spurred by the health care overhaul: pay higher monthly insurance premiums or run the risk of having to shell out thousands more in deductibles for health care if they get sick.

To promote the Oct. 1 debut of the exchanges, the online marketplaces where consumers can shop and buy insurance, Obama administration and Illinois officials touted the lower-than-expected monthly premiums that would make insurance more affordable for millions of Americans. But a Tribune analysis shows that 21 of the 22 lowest-priced plans offered on the Illinois health insurance exchange for Cook County have annual deductibles of more than $4,000 for an individual and $8,000 for family coverage…

Plans with the least expensive monthly premiums — highlighted by state and federal officials as proof the new law will keep costs low for consumers — have deductibles as high as $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families, the highest levels allowed under the law.

And then there’s the website.  In an era where identity theft is running rampant where hackers can steal everything in your smartphone while sipping a coffee at Starbucks we are asked to enter all our personal and identifying information into this website.  And after they collect it they will store it in one massive database.  Or as that hacker in Starbucks would call it, the mother lode.  A hacker’s paradise.  So is our personal and identifying information safe?  It doesn’t matter.  For the government has written in the code that by entering our data we acknowledge that we have no expectation of privacy (see Obamacare Website Source Code: ‘No Reasonable Expectation of Privacy’ by JERYL BIER posted 10/14/2013 on The Weekly Standard).

The launch of federal government’s Obamacare insurance exchange, Healthcare.gov, has been plagued with delays, errors, and poor website design, even prompting USA Today to call it an “inexcusable mess” and a “nightmare”.  Now comes another example of why the website’s reputation is in tatters.  Buried in the source code of Healthcare.gov is this sentence that could prove embarrassing: “You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system.”  Though not visible to users and obviously not intended as part of the terms and conditions, the language is nevertheless a part of the underlying code for the “Terms & Conditions” page on the site…

The full portion of the code which does not appear on the visible page displayed for users reads as follows:

You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system.  At any time, and for any lawful Government purpose, the government may monitor, intercept, and search and seize any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system.  Any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system may be disclosed or used for any lawful Government purpose. [The sentence beginning “To continue” also appears again, but is only visible once on the page as displayed for users.]

Talk about your Big Brother.  Once upon a time the Constitution required a warrant for the government to collect this information.  Now it’s the price of health care.  You want to live?  Then you must sign away your Fourth Amendment Right.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Apparently the Obama administration has little regard for the U.S. Constitution.  Funny how these same people railed against George W. Bush and the Patriot Act.  And he was only wire-tapping international telephone calls to suspected terrorists.  Not throwing a dragnet to see what useful information the government could collect on potential political enemies of the state.  Which could be useful in the next election.  Or to silence a critic.

The Taxpayer Bill for the Obamacare Website is $1 Billion and Counting

Proponents of national health care like to say the United States is the only advanced economy without national health care.  But what they don’t say is that those countries they so admire have a mix of public and private.  And those who can choose the private over the public whenever they can.  Australia.  The United Kingdom.  Even Canada.  And the name of the Canadian private network?  The United States.  Well, before Obamacare, at least.  In fact, not only do patients travel across the border for the private American health care system.  So do doctors and nurses.  In search of a decent wage.  For in Canada they have little choice but to accept what the Canadian government pays them.  However little that is.

The lynchpin of Obamacare is getting young, healthy people to buy health insurance policies.  Who will only pay into the system.  For being young and healthy they won’t consume any health care resources.  So the young and healthy can pay for the old and sick.  And with an aging population, the old and sick outnumber the young and healthy.  So the young and healthy will be paying high premiums and high deductibles.  Just as is happening.  While families will pay even more.  And just as they are paying more for their now mandatory health insurance their household incomes are falling.  Employers are pushing full-time workers to part-time.  Laying off workers to have less than 30 on the payroll.  And they’re not hiring anyone to keep from having 30 workers on the payroll.  All because of Obamacare.  So the 10 million or so workers who left the labor force since President Obama assumed office won’t be going back to work any time soon.

So the Affordable Care Act is as bad as the Republicans said it would be.  And then there’s the cost of the website (see Late IT Cash Surge Foreshadowed Health-Law Woes by Peter Gosselin posted 10/24/2013 on Bloomberg Government).

Although the Affordable Care Act has been law for three and a half years, one third of the funds going to the top contractors working on the federal exchanges were awarded in the six months before the new insurance marketplaces opened Oct. 1, a Bloomberg Government Analysis has found. The torrent of late spending — almost $352 million of $1 billion in awards to the top 10 contractors — indicates the magnitude of the work still to be done as opening day approached, and helps explain the information technology problems that have dogged the exchange system since its launch.

$1 billion for a website.  And one that doesn’t work.  Imagine that.  But in the grand scheme of things this will still be the least costly part of the Affordable Care Act.  And we’ll look back to these days as the good old days of Obamacare.  Because it is horrible now.  And it will only get worse.  The Republicans knew this which is why none of them voted for it. The Democrats knew it, too, but they didn’t care.  Because for them Obamacare is not about health care.  It’s about acquiring power.  Sadly, they were able to win this political contest.  Because they are better at lying than the Republicans are at telling the truth.

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The Obamacare Website uses 10-Year-Old Technology that is not User Friendly

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 19th, 2013

Week in Review

They say you should never send a boy to do a man’s job.  With the Obamacare website rollout we also see we should never send the government to do a job a kid can do.  Design a functioning website (see Tech experts: Health exchange site needs total overhaul by Kelly Kennedy posted 10/17/2013 on USA Today).

The federal health care exchange was built using 10-year-old technology that may require constant fixes and updates for the next six months and the eventual overhaul of the entire system, technology experts told USA TODAY…

Recent changes have made the exchanges easier to use, but they still require clearing the computer’s cache several times, stopping a pop-up blocker, talking to people via Web chat who suggest waiting until the server is not busy, opening links in new windows and clicking on every available possibility on a page in the hopes of not receiving an error message. With those changes, it took one hour to navigate the HealthCare.gov enrollment process Wednesday…

“I have never seen a website — in the last five years — require you to delete the cache in an effort to resolve errors,” said Dan Schuyler, a director at Leavitt Partners, a health care group by former Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt. “This is a very early Web 1.0 type of fix.”

“The application could be fundamentally flawed,” said Jeff Kim, president of CDNetworks, a content-delivery network. “They may be using 1990s technology in 2.0 world…”

Clearing the cache, which has helped make it easier for some people to enroll, could ultimately strain the system more, Kim said…

But as HHS fixes errors, the cookies may not correspond with the updated website, so rather than allowing someone to quickly log in, they instead cause an error message. And every time a person clears his computer’s cache, the government’s website has to work that much harder to grab more data…

Engates said he believes most of the problems are caused by systems integration with other sites, such as the IRS.

So much for the Obamacare website being user friendly.

Today when someone is having trouble with technology they usually turn to their children.  Or the neighbor’s kid.  In the old days parents had their kids teach them how to program the VCR.  Little has changed.  For when we have a technology problem no one ever says ‘let’s call the government’.  No.  They usually look for some kid they know.  Because kids are fascinated by technology and want to learn all about the latest new thing.  Whereas adults are just too tired to learn anything new.

Perhaps we can ask the neighbor kid to buy our health insurance for us.  They’ll know how to clear the computer’s cache, turn off a popup blocker and open links in new windows.  While us old people dream about the good old days.  When we could go to a private insurer, sit across the desk from her or him and buy insurance the old fashion way.  Without having to have a kid do it for us.

Why does the government always take something that was working perfectly fine and make it so damn hard?

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The Roll Out of Obamacare was a Disaster because the Government can’t do anything better than the Private Sector

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 12th, 2013

Week in Review

No one likes renewing their driver’s license.  Because the government doesn’t have competition.  And therefore doesn’t do anything well.  Because there are no market pressures.  No risk of losing customers because of poor service or an inferior product.  They can put out garbage and we have to accept it.  Why?  Because where else are we going to go?  Which is why Obamacare is so frightening to many.  And why the role out of the website was a disaster (see Obamacare site hits reset button on passwords as contractors scramble by Sean Gallagher posted 10/8/2013 on ars technica).

Garbage in, garbage out

The result of the headlong rush to October 1 was a system that had never been tested at anything like the load it experienced on its first day of operation (if it was tested with loads at all). Those looking for a reason for the site’s horrible performance on its first day had plenty of things to choose from.

First of all, there’s the front-end site itself. The first page of the registration process (once you get to it) has 2,099 lines of HTML code, but it also calls 56 JavaScript files and 11 CSS files. That’s not exactly optimal for heavy-load pages.

Navigating the site once you get past registration is something of a cheese chase through the rat-maze. “It’s like a bad, boring video game where you try to grunt and hack your way through to the next step,” one site user told Ars.

Once you get through all that, it’s not clear that it’s going to do you any good. Underlying problems in the back-end code—including the data hub built by QSSI—have been causing errors in determining whether individuals are eligible for subsidized plans under the program. In DC, that means health care plan prices won’t be available to people registering through DC’s portal until November. It may also mean that others who have registered already at the federal and state exchanges may get sticker shock later.

The sad thing is this.  They are probably better at building websites than they are delivering health care.  So if you liked the quality of health care you were receiving before Obamacare you can kiss that goodbye.  Because the roll out of Obamacare?  This is probably as good as it gets under Obamacare.  Because the government can never do anything as well as the private sector.

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It’s not the Traffic that crashed the Obamacare Website but Bad Website Design

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 6th, 2013

Week in Review

The Obamacare website got off to a less than illustrious start.  That is, it failed to work.  The Obama administration said the website failed because it was overwhelmed by so many people wanting to log on at the same time to get them some Obamacare.  But people who actually know how to design websites said it wasn’t a capacity problem.  The problem is something common whenever the government tries to do anything.  They just did a poor job designing the Obamacare website (see Obamacare architecture flawed: Experts by Reuters posted 10/6/2013 on The Times of India).

Days after the launch of the federal government’s Obamacare website, millions of Americans looking for information on new health insurance plans were still locked out of the system even though its designers scrambled to add capacity.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversaw development of the site, declined to make any of its IT experts available for interviews. CGI Group Inc, the Canadian contractor that built HealthCare.gov, is “declining to comment at this time,” said spokeswoman Linda Odorisio.

Five outside technology experts interviewed by Reuters, however, say they believe flaws in system architecture, not traffic alone, contributed to the problems.

For instance, when a user tries to create an account on HealthCare.gov, which serves insurance exchanges in 36 states, it prompts the computer to load an unusually large amount of files and software, overwhelming the browser, experts said.

If they are right, then just bringing more servers online, as officials say they are doing, will not fix the site…

One possible cause of the problems is that hitting “apply” on HealthCare.gov causes 92 separate files, plug-ins and other mammoth swarms of data to stream between the user’s computer and the servers powering the government website, said Matthew Hancock, an independent expert in website design. He was able to track the files being requested through a feature in the Firefox browser…

[Matthew Hancock, an independent expert in website design,] said because so much traffic was going back and forth between the users’ computers and the server hosting the government website, it was as if the system was attacking itself.

Hancock described the situation as similar to what happens when hackers conduct a distributed denial of service, or DDOS, attack on a website: they get large numbers of computers to simultaneously request information from the server that runs a website, overwhelming it and causing it to crash or otherwise stumble. “The site basically DDOS’d itself,” he said.

Did you catch that?  President Obama and the Democrats have lambasted corporations for outsourcing American jobs.  Called them a whole bunch of nasty names.  Unpatriotic.  Greedy.  You name it.  And yet here they are.  Outsourcing the design of the Obamacare website.  So I guess the Obama administration is unpatriotic, greedy, etc.

Those “92 separate files, plug-ins and other mammoth swarms of data to stream between the user’s computer and the servers powering the government website” does not fill one with a lot of confidence that our private and personal data they’re collecting will be secure.  Complicated systems are more subject to breaking down.  And getting hacked.

If these people who actually know how to design websites are right that means the Obama administration lied to us about what was wrong with the Obamacare website.  Of course, president Obama said if we liked our health insurance plan and our doctor we could keep them.  Which were lies.  It seems like the Obama administration has a habit of lying to the American people to get what they want against our will.

Not only that they sic the IRS on their political enemies.  As well as using the IRS to suppress voter turnout on the right.  By making it harder for Tea Party groups to be politically active like they were in the 2010 mid-term election.  Who rose up in opposition to Obamacare.  Had the Obama administration not use the full weight of their powers to suppress the Tea Party during the 2012 election President Obama would not have won reelection.  And Obamacare may have already been repealed by this time.  For it was conservatives that sat home and didn’t vote for Romney.  Because the Tea Party wasn’t active like in the previous election to motivate them.  Or they were intimidated by the left and were afraid of the IRS.  Further reasons to fear the data mining of the Obamacare website.  Which the IRS will have access to.

Perhaps we should be grateful that they designed the Obamacare website poorly.  For it will let us keep our personal and private information secure for a little longer.

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