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D-Day arrives for Obamacare... and oh so badly

By PETER MORICI, UPI Outside View Commentator   |   Nov. 30, 2013 at 12:23 PM   |   Comments

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COLLEGE PARK, Md., Nov. 30 (UPI) -- D-Day arrived for Obamacare Saturday and it began with an 11-hour shutdown of the website.

The system is functioning a bit better than before but is still terribly inadequate.

Applications are in limbo -- many already initiated are stalled, lost or otherwise can't be completed. Applicants eligible for subsidies must use the website, or HealthCare.org paper alternatives that can't handle the volume and the system often can't verify applicants' eligibility for aid.

Overall, the website still fails to complete the enrollment process for many who try.

Website software to get insurance companies paid subsidies isn't functioning and the small business site that was to offer group coverage has been postponed one year.

The website's failings aside, look at the list of promises that will remain unkept when it is repaired and fully functioning:

If you like your insurance, you can keep it.

If you like your doctor, you can keep him.

If you need help finding insurance, we will make it easy.

If you can't get coverage, we will get you covered.

Folks who had perfectly adequate policies, which were delivering hundreds of thousands of dollars in life-saving benefits from specialized physicians for cancer treatment to other complex illnesses, have lost their coverage and been offered replacement insurance cluttered with unneeded services. For example, pediatric vision care for childless couples in their 50s and birth control benefits for nuns.

Instead, Americans will face death when their old policies lapse and they can no longer pay for the care they need.

Overall, premium costs are rocketing for many Americans, not because their old coverage was inadequate or because their new coverage is better but because they are in markets now served by fewer providers and less competition than before.

Businesses are being forced to jettison full-time positions to avoid providing healthcare benefits they can no longer afford and avoid penalties that will be imposed beginning in 2015. Part-time jobs, which generally offer lower wages and few benefits, are replacing full-time employment in industries spanning the economy and country.

Americans are burdened with about 20 new taxes and fees and higher premiums and co-pays for insurance policies that work about the same or worse for most middle-class families -- the folks the president and his fellow Democrats so often say they want to help.

It took a triumph of hubris for the president to believe he could sign a single law that would replace markets in a U.S. healthcare sector as large as the economy of France.

Only God can make a tree and, in his creation, only the invisible hand can make a market.

When the government tries to create a market, it plays God ... and does so very badly.

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(Peter Morici, an economist and professor at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, is a widely published columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @pmorici1)

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(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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