Below you'll read the details of another Obamacare nightmare. This one, it appears, comes courtesy of dysfunctional back-end problems that have placed a triple bypass surgery recipient in an impossible and terrifying situation. We've written about the inevitability of well-meaning consumers checking all the boxes to obtain insurance, only to be sandbagged by logistical snafus when they desperately need the coverage they thought they had. Meet Larry Basich, whose kafkaesque ordeal is being reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
The hospital bills are hitting Larry Basich’s mailbox. That would be OK if Basich had health insurance. But he doesn’t. Thing is, he should be covered. Basich, 62, bought a plan through the state’s Nevada Health Link insurance exchange in the fall. He’s been paying monthly premiums since November. Yet the Las Vegan is stranded in a no-man’s-land where no carrier claims him, and his tab is mounting: Basich owes $407,000 for care received in January and February, when his policy was supposed to be in effect. Instead, he’s covered only for March and beyond. Basich has begged for weeks for help from the exchange and its contractor, Xerox. But Basich’s insurance broker said Xerox seems more interested in lawyering up and covering its hide than in working out Basich’s problems. Nor is Basich the only client facing plan-selection errors through the exchange, she added...
Basich said he began trying to enroll on Oct. 1, the day the exchange website went live. Like many consumers, he fought technical flaws during multiple sign-up attempts. In mid-November he finally got through and chose his plan...Basich paid his first premium on Nov. 21, and within days the exchange withdrew the $160.77 payment from his money-market savings account. Because Basich paid a month before the Dec. 23 deadline, his coverage was to begin Jan. 1. Weeks ticked by, but Basich received nothing to confirm he had insurance. Nevada Health Link kept telling him he was enrolled, but UnitedHealthcare said he wasn’t in their system. Basich’s predicament went critical on Dec. 31, when he had a heart attack. His treatment, which included a triple bypass on Jan. 3, resulted in $407,000 in medical bills in January and February that no insurer is covering.
Insult to injury -- and misery has company:
The help didn’t come fast enough, said Basich, who blames his back-and-forth with the exchange in December at least in part for stress that caused his heart attack. That stress has turned up a few notches now that Basich is getting the bills. He fretted in the exchange board’s Thursday meeting about what will happen to his credit rating — and his ability to qualify for a mortgage — if the bills are not covered...Though Basich’s problem is exceptional for its dollar value, his situation is not unusual, Burch said. She estimates that of nearly 200 Branch Benefits Consultants client sign ups via Nevada Health Link, only 5 percent have gone through problem-free. More than 20 customers have the same plan-selection issue as Basich. One gave up trying to fix it and is sticking with the plan the exchange put her in.
This guy isn't one of the "reckless" crowd who've declined to sign up for coverage. He isn't even one of the many "enrollees" who selected a plan, then never bothered to pay. (Incidentally, payment rates are looking ugly in a number of states, with other state and federal exchange administrators unwilling or unable to disclose their data). No, he painstakingly followed all of the Obamacare rules, and still got screwed by the law's faceless bureaucratic ineptitude. Remember healthcare expert Bob Laszewski's many warnings about the error-filled data "reconciliation" process? Remember warnings about broken and un-built "back ends" of websites? That wasn't mindless partisan fear-mongering. Those were real concerns about what could happen to real people like Larry Basich. Meanwhile in Colorado, a local college has decided to cut part-time faculty hours, prohibiting adjunct professors to work more than 30 hours per week in order to avoid expensive Obamacare mandates. The University of North Carolina system is weighing a similar cost-saving move. The Rocky Mountain state has spent roughly $177 million in taxpayer money to facilitate its Obamacare exchange, with one-fifth of its employees earning six-figures. Jim Geraghty writes that they've signed up about 85,000 consumers, which accounts for just "17 percent of Colorado's estimated potential market." The state's Democratic governor -- who championed his party's healthcare experiment from day one -- is being surprisingly frank about how many people hate the law:
And he talks to a lot of Democratic crowds...in a state that's a relative "success" story. It looks like someone is eager to distance himself from an unpopular president and law. Hickenlooper isn't alone. Sen. Mark Udall has
made it clear that he doesn't want to be seen with Obama on the campaign trail. Problem: Udall cast the deciding vote for Obamacare, and has hewed the Obama party line an eye-popping 99 percent of the time, according to a 2013 Congressional Quarterly analysis. Endangered Senate Democrats have a big Barack Obama loyalty problem:
UPDATE - The overall race is a dead heat. Check out the Obamacare numbers among Colorado Hispanics: