#Obamacare: the ongoing crash and burn of the HHS Hindenburg

**Posted by Phineas

"Obamacare has arrived"
“Obamacare has arrived”

I was under the weather over the weekend, so some articles accumulated about the rolling wreckage known as the Affordable Care Act (1), both those problems already known and those forthcoming. Let’s start with the one that’s perhaps the scariest for being the most personal; as Mark Steyn so aptly put it, “If you like your checking account, you can keep your checking account:”

For the second week in a row, the Washington Healthplanfinder website is down, and it’s causing problems for people who are dealing with billing issues. Some of them say the website is mistakenly debiting their accounts.

Shannon Bruner of Indianola logged on to her checking account Monday morning, and found she was almost 800 dollars in the negative.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘I got screwed,’” she said.

The Bruners enrolled for insurance on the Washington Healthplanfinder website, last October. They say they selected the bill pay date to be December 24th. Instead the Washington Healthplanfinder drafted the 835 dollar premium Monday.

Josh Bruner started his own business this year as an engineering recruiter. They said it’s forced them to pay a lot of attention to their bills and their bank accounts.

“Big knot in my gut because we’re trying to keep it together,” said Shannon Bruner. “It’s important to me that this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”

They’re not alone.

This is why I never, ever give direct access to my checking account: bureaucracies screw up, and good luck fighting them. While you’re trying to get your money back, you’re suddenly lacking funds to cover the checks you wrote and other immediate needs, as the people in the article are discovering. And, if this is happening in the Washington state exchange, what do you want to bet erroneous debits are taking place on other state exchanges and the federal exchange, with its millions of potential customers? But you can’t just refuse to participate in such an incompetent operation — you’re bound under penalty of law and just have to hope these yahoos don’t foul up your life too badly.

Merry Christmas!

Meanwhile, it turns out Obamacare may kill volunteer fire departments across the country; no one knows whether they’re required to give their firefighters coverage under the ACA, or how the mandate is activated, because the IRS hasn’t yet written the rules, even though the deadline is just days away:

At issue is the Affordable Care Act’s mandate requiring employers with more than 50 full-time workers to provide adequate health insurance coverage for employees working more than 30 hours a week and whether it should be applied to unpaid volunteers.

Fire officials say the Internal Revenue Service treats volunteer firefighters as full-time employees for tax purposes, so they worry that the agency will also require municipal fire departments and fire companies to provide those volunteers with health coverage or pay substantial fines for failing to do so.

Officials say the mandate could create a severe financial hardship for their departments and companies.

“It would be just devastating to our budget,” Burlington Township Fire Director John Stewart said Friday. “Right now, we have three full-time employees and 90 qualified volunteers. I don’t know what we would do.”

Pemberton Township Fire Chief Craig Augustoni said informal estimates were that the mandate might cost the municipality an additional $2 million to insure its volunteers.

“That, or pay a fine of $2,000 per worker,” Augustoni said.

Obamacare: it’s not just a metaphorical “crash and burn” scenario any more.

Sometimes a bit of schadenfreude can help us feel better; who doesn’t like laughing and pointing at the travails of the very people who helped bring this mess about? Via Instapundit, Tom Macguire reports on a New York Times article detailing the suffering of Manhattan’s cultural elites under the ACA:

Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.

They are part of an unusual, informal health insurance system that has developed in New York, in which independent practitioners were able to get lower insurance rates through group plans, typically set up by their professional associations or chambers of commerce. That allowed them to avoid the sky-high rates in New York’s individual insurance market, historically among the most expensive in the country.

But under the Affordable Care Act, they will be treated as individuals, responsible for their own insurance policies. For many of them, that is likely to mean they will no longer have access to a wide network of doctors and a range of plans tailored to their needs. And many of them are finding that if they want to keep their premiums from rising, they will have to accept higher deductible and co-pay costs or inferior coverage.

“I couldn’t sleep because of it,” said Barbara Meinwald, a solo practitioner lawyer in Manhattan.

This quote later in the article is a beaut:

It is not lost on many of the professionals that they are exactly the sort of people — liberal, concerned with social justice — who supported the Obama health plan in the first place. Ms. Meinwald, the lawyer, said she was a lifelong Democrat who still supported better health care for all, but had she known what was in store for her, she would have voted for Mitt Romney.

It is an uncomfortable position for many members of the creative classes to be in.

Yeah, well, forgive me, Barbara, if my well of sympathy has once again run dry. This is what you and your fellow fighters for “social justice” voted for in defiance of all reason and the laws of economics, and now you’ve got it. Congratulations. And from those of us who could see all along what a disaster this would be, thanks a lot.

Finally, the government says they’re getting a handle on the problem of wrong information being sent to insurers, which could lead to people thinking they have coverage, when they don’t. Well, hold on to your hats; the government is lying. The problems are not fixed. Thousands of applications have not been sent to insurers. Healthcare.gov is still rife with errors. But, don’t worry, the Peron Obama administration is “encouraging” insurers grant all sorts of exceptions and break the law to make sure they take the blame for the problems the government created.

Well, they didn’t say it that bluntly, but that’s because they don’t want us to know how panicked they are.

I get this feeling it’s going to hit the fan come January 1st, don’t you?

(1) George Orwell, call your office.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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