Testing the Obamacare Exchange

With three months to go before kickoff for the Obamacare exchange the folks who are responsible for Frankenstein’s monster are kicking the tires and taking it for a spin. After all, what good does it do if you have a new car and it falls apart the first time you take it off the lot?            obamacare exchange

Might as well be one of those Cash 4 Clunkers trade in deals.

Will the Obamacare exchange be ready to roll on October 1, 2013 or will it sputter and die?

That process is complex enough by itself. How much coverage do you want? What deductible? Are family members on the plan? Do you need an asthma program? Do you want to keep your current doctor? What about dental?

Health-act proponents liken the signup software to Expedia or Travelocity, where travelers can book flights and hotels. It may be more like TurboTax, escorting you through requirements and choices much more complex than whether you want a flight in the afternoon or the morning.

Kaiser Health News

TurboTax is a good analogy. With all the financial information required to move you to the next page, I believe most consumers will just walk away.

Like other filtering software, Connecture’s program is a multi-step search engine, screening out inappropriate options (based on your input) to deliver a manageable menu. After getting past the basics (Stripped-down “bronze” plan or high-benefit “platinum”? High deductible or low?), the program asks if it’s important to keep your current doctor.

“Based on our research, the choice of doctor was probably the No. 1 and No. 2 [features] of what people are looking for in a plan,”

Whoa!

The ONLY reason to shop on the Obamacare exchange is to (possibly) get a taxpayer subsidy. Otherwise you will find more options OFF the exchange.

Doctor and hospital networks will be skinny, more like an HMO. Drugs on the formulary will be mostly generics and few brand names.

So if you are expecting to find “your” doctor and “your” medication on an Obamacare exchange plan you will be very disappointed.

To try to reduce sticker shock, Connecture shows your net premium price — after the tax credits are applied — early in the shopping process. But perhaps the most important feature is the one estimating the total cost of coverage, including deductibles and co-pays, based on your reported health status. Without that information somebody with a chronic condition requiring lots of care could choose a plan based only on a low premium, not realizing the total expense could be substantially reduced by paying a larger premium up front.

The average health insurance consumer has the attention span of a 3 year old. How many are willing to spend 45 minutes trying to find out if they qualify for a subsidy, and then search through networks for their doctor.

And if you want to see the drug formulary, good luck. That information is normally only available once you buy . . .

Then there is this.

If you have a S L O W internet connection you may need to roll a fatty to get through the process.