New Orleans Despite all of the drama-rama around the Affordable Care Act website, it works much, much better now than it did a month ago, and this has been the case for sometime as improvements in speed and effectiveness have been achieved. I’m not saying it’s perfect, and regardless of the improvements, it’s still not that easy to decide what’s best for you and your family, but ignore the Debbie Downers, you can enroll without breaking anything or having to take off of work to do so.
Talking to navigators, who are assisting in enrollment, in Louisiana and Arkansas, they are not reporting problems in accessing the website. Nonetheless, this is complicated business and can take 30 to 40 minutes to get the job done. This experience is confirmed widely. I visited yesterday with the Musicians Union in New Orleans where its president, the well known local singer, Deacon John, was hosting an oyster feast for the members and some lucky others, like myself. The secretary at the local, Cindy Mayes, told me that even after having filled out a paper application, she had recently found it easier to go on-line using the application as a guide, and was experiencing no difficulty doing so. While the oysters were coming hot off the grill, Cindy and local navigators were spreading the good word, because so few of their working members, who represent the heart and soul of the music industry in New Orleans, have any employer paid insurance, so Obamacare is a godsend for most of them.
Of course that doesn’t mean that insurance companies are happy. The front page article in the Wall Street Journal was a total wailing wall as many insurers worry that the backend of the website that converts enrollment into cash in their coffers was still having some issues. They want a workaround, but, frankly, what they really want is to be able to maintain a captive audience on their own websites so that consumers don’t avail themselves of the opportunities to comparison shop. It’s hard to listen to their whining without a huge grain of salt.
Meanwhile the other Debbie Downers who are yammering at the progress continue to be companies, especially lower wage outfits who are hoping they don’t have to do the right thing and provide real insurance. I got a letter over Thanksgiving week from one of the largest nursing home chains in Louisiana trying to resist sitting down with the union to talk about the impact of the Affordable Care Act and what they were going to do for our bargaining unit in Napoleonville and elsewhere. The letter enclosed a copy of a notice they passed out to the workers showing them how to go online and apply at www.healthcare.gov. Hmmmm.
Someone’s pill is another’s poison, but we still have to sort out the self-interest, and take care of ourselves, and that means applying right now.