Since October 1, I have logged on to various websites across the Internet to book three flights, make hotel reservations in four cities, buy a pair of boots, some t-shirts and a set of nifty retro Mason jars.
What I haven’t bought: health insurance through healthcare.gov.
Nor have I tried, even after being able to (finally) create an account and see the prices on specific plans offered here in South Jersey, after weeks of frustration.
Here’s why: Given my family’s initial experience in setting up an account and the horror stories that continue to pour out day by day, we simply have no faith that the system will work if we attempt to sign up. And, given the bungling to date, we are not confident our insurance will be there January 1 – even if we are able to Whac-A-Mole our way through the registration process.
Think about it this way: If you really need to get to Miami, would you attempt to buy a plane ticket on a sketchy site that may or may not sell you a ticket that may or may not be waiting for you for a plane that may or may not be there when you get to the airport on the travel day?
Of course not. Nor are we comfortable relying on healthcare.gov, 1-800 numbers, navigators or parchment to sign up for health insurance through the federal exchange at this point.
Given our lack of confidence in the system and the administration’s ability to sort it out in a timely manner, our plan is to wait and see – which causes some complications on the back end for our health care needs.
What is all the more galling is the continued tone-deafness of the communications coming from the administration – from President Obama to Secretary Sebelius to the HHS communications shop. The way they speak about this makes it clear that they simply do not understand the minute-to-minute, day-to-day frustrations and longterm problems it is causing for the very people they are counting on to sign up.
President Obama insists that the signup process will work – if only we don’t go to the website that he and his team spent months telling us to go to.
Secretary Sebelius insists she’s on the job – even though she says she didn’t bother to tell her boss this whole debacle was coming and she doesn’t work for anybody who thinks she may need to step aside.
And the HHS communications shop (my former employer)? Well, they continue to shift the goal posts and defend the indefensible:
By the end of November? That isn’t BIG NEWS, folks; that is BAD NEWS.
And creating an account? Great. I can create an account, but can I buy insurance?
At this point, I don’t trust them enough to bother to find out.
Tony Jewell is the founder of Boardwalk Public Relations in Ventnor, New Jersey. He is a former corporate and state and federal government spokesman. This post originally appeared in his blog, Life in the Affordable Care Act.