Oregon spends $300 million to achieve 44 total signups for Obamacare

J. D. Heyes
Thursday, January 02, 2014

(NaturalNews) Well, it’s not much of a “win” for Obamacare, and it’s certainly not a victory for Oregon taxpayers.

According to the Washington Examiner, the state’s healthcare exchange was once touted as a model for President Obama’s signature piece of legislation. But after signing up only 44 people throughout the month of November – at a cost of about $300 million – if that is “success,” then maybe Oregonians don’t want to know what failure looks like (or costs).

As reported by the online news site:

The state’s exchange had the fewest sign-ups in the nation, according to a new report … by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The weak number of sign-ups undercuts two major defenses of Obamacare from its supporters.

One defense was that state-based exchanges were performing a lot better than the federal healthcare.gov website servicing 36 states. But Oregon’s website problems have forced the state to rely on paper applications to sign up participants.

Another defense of the Obama administration has attributed the troubled rollout of Obamacare to the obstruction of Republican governors who wanted to see the law fail as well as a lack of funding.

However, that doesn’t hold up either, as Oregon is a heavily Democratic state that supported Obamacare from the get-go, and very enthusiastically. The state’s outreach program was praised by the laws’ supporters and included a folk-style type music video that featured a singer playing an acoustic guitar set against a colorful, scenic background.

The more than $300 million that Oregon received in federal grant money to build and promote its online exchange exceeded all but two states – New York and California, which are much more populous.

‘Just complete frustration’

Speaking of California, sign-ups in that deep blue state have increased rapidly, especially in the past couple of weeks, as the Jan. 1 deadline for the law approaches.

And President Obama claimed last week that more than 1 million people had signed up through the state and federal exchanges, after a glitch-prone, disastrous roll-out of the law on Oct. 1.

But how many more would have signed up if the sites were still not problematic? Perhaps 1 million more, according to CNBC:

Already, with a major Obamacare sign-up deadline looming, enrollment directly by health insurers and online brokers in Affordable Care Act plans is dramatically below what it might have been because of those technical problems, experts say.

Those problems are so bad that no web broker who was supposed to be able to connect to the federal Obamacare marketplace HealthCare.gov is enrolling people in health plans sold there in a seamless online process as planned, industry sources [said].

“Just complete frustration, to be honest with you,” John DiVito, president of Illinois-based web broker Flexible Benefit, who was describing his experience since the Oct. 1 launch of the federal site to CNBC. “You go online, they’re telling you you can do it. It doesn’t work.”

A million more could be enrolled, however…

What specifically isn’t working is the so-called “direct enrollment” – a term for people signing up in Obamacare plans and, in particular, those that include taxpayer and fee-payer subsidies, directly via individual insurance companies and web brokers, without the customer having to go online at Healthcare.gov to shop for plans, apply and sign up.

Officials within the Obama administration have said that direct enrollment is now an available option, and that it is left up to insurers and brokers to decide when to actually “go live” with it. But as usual, the administration has over-promised and under-delivered, which is the theme of Obamacare in a nutshell.

CNBC reported: “Asked how many people will end up not enrolled for the 2014 plan year because insurers and brokers have been stymied by direct enrollment issues, DiVito said, ‘It’s got to be over a million people, easily, at this point.'”

Separately, another insurance broker executive echoed DiVito’s estimate: “A million people being left on the table? For sure.”

“It’s just been too much of a mess,” said the unnamed executive, in referring to the continued delays in getting an effective direct enrollment link set up.

In the meantime, Obama continues to change the law at will – delaying parts of it, giving some politically allied groups waivers, and so forth, despite the fact that the president, his administration and his supporters keep telling us that Obamacare is “the law of the land, get used to it.”

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