I Give Up

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.

23 replies »

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  3. Tesla Motors was “ObamaCare for Billionaires”. Now look at all of the headlines on Tesla. Another typical screw-up:

    “MULTIPLE Class action Lawsuits for FRAUD now filed against Tesla. Tesla factory “unsafe” say current workers and former NUMMI workers. More Tesla’s burst into flames!!! Political crony’s seek to blockade Tesla recall to avoid bad optics. Elon Musk NOT founder of Tesla: Ex-wives & actual founders say he screwed them. Battery dumping scheme. Tesla DOE loan review documents found/manipulated. Deadly toxic smoke fumes released by burning Tesla = Cancer, Brain Damage, Lung Damage per federal reports & MSDS. George Clooney exposes Tesla bad engineering cover-up. Tesla telling lies about how many “thermal events” there have been. Lithium Ion “nearly impossible” to extinguish say firefighters. Corruption connections emerge. Federal Investigation deepens on use of exploding flashlight batteries to power car instead of commercial energy storage technology. Stock Market Rigging under SEC review. Multiple lawsuits for fraud have now been filed against Tesla. Lithium ion kills workers and companies. Organized criminal actions have now been documented. Financial reports show books are cooked. Tesla insiders spill the beans.”

  4. I spoke with a Kaiser rep the other day about individual insurance in Calif. Wanted to know about pricing on Covered California vs. Kaiser site (I don’t get subsidies). She said it would be about the same all told, but “We don’t have any bugs to work out. We’ve been here and we know what we’re doing.” Basically pushing direct sales on faults of Obamacare web sites.

  5. Yep!


    Sebelius should be on trial as should be Larsen. First thing to remember: this was never meant to actually work, only as a stepping stone (a very expensive stepping stone) and a giant distraction. I hope this administration and the democrat leadership are personally held responsible for this multi-trillion dollar spiteful, grudge fest, spectacle of low down liberal destruction. A man can dream.
    Anyone else curious why UHC, who’s subsidiary is in charge of establishing and maintaining the exchange “rules” would decide to opt out of every exchange?

  6. Agreed. They lost the would-be early adopters like me.

    I’ll come back, because we need the insurance – but what of the young healthy types?

  7. I think the very lack of trust is going to seriously affect Healthcare.gov sign ups, even if it is- by some miracle up and running to perfection like it’s supposed to.

  8. Peter1…rates are going up and up substantially. If you want to dig in to it try a insurance agent..I know of a few that understand the ObamaCare issues and costs and programs involved.

  9. Saw something on the Internet that alleged that CGI got the contract because a member of CGI was a friend of Michelle Obama’s.

    I take things like that with a grain of salt but – does anyone know any more about that story?

  10. Ok let me be more specific here, turnkey platforms, which means ASC X12 834 standards already built in, which CMS changed this standard and everyone else uses it to get information to and from the insurance companies. Back on track a turnkey here with a platform would mean either an Oracle or Microsoft platform to where you still need to code and use the the platform to build an app or query within, but if you compare to writing code from bottom up, this is the way to go as integration between modules, the code, is already done.

    This is what the corporate enterprise does and it’s a lot faster for sure but government contractors have sold this idea of custom code for a long time to gov so they make more money, so I’m asking as well as Congressman Issa, which I tweeted today as well for the run down on what components went in t the project and what software as they did buy and license one Oracle product, the Access and ID module which works with Oracle Fusion Middleware as do most all of Oracle’s products so where’s the rest of the configuration as a smart integrator would choose integrated products in heartbeat over writing code from ground up. Here’s more on the 2 with a little Jon Stewart added in.


  11. Would it been possible to turnkey this? Now we have the contractor saying they only were contracted to deliver a “product” not test it. How stupid is that?

  12. Actually the entire job of running HHS, as I said in 2009 was over her head and Health IT would eat her up and here we are. Yes she’s not directly responsible but her agency is and she lacks “hybird” leadership as just being a flat out figure head and of late it gets worse as there’s something wrong with her own perception of herself. Yes we do not need anymore CNN interviews with”canned and rehearsed” responses of throwing numbers at us, I was in sales for years, I tossed numbers out but with product knowledge and not canned. I have a collection of her few very public errors and sad but they all come back to digital illiteracy. SEC and DOJ have same figurehead problems with running IT intense agencies too.


    Now with the website I never agree with Congressman Issa, but found myself on one which I do now and that is to have a full listing of all the software entities and products that went into the entire project as they so secretaive and you see press releases every dya with companies telling you what they are doing with technology. With QSSI having an India domicile listed on the Untied Healthcare SEC page of subsidiaries, all 15 pages, and you should look, I am wondering if they were writing code from the bottom up for their part in the whole program for $ 80 million.

    Already had one former CMS executive tell me that yes contractors do that to make more money when in fact they could be integrators for less money with commercial products.


    So now that United Healthcare’s India sub is in control, again more questions…

  13. I’m not giving up, just watching from the sidelines, because I am waiting out the first year. Obamacare may not be with us after the next election if it pisses off too many people who won’t get benefits.

    I have been depositing my own self-insurance premiums into a bank account for years and will continue to do so – I don’t want to spend that money with an insurance company only to have the whole thing go back to the previous system where I would loose those dollars to a failed system.

    The exchange here in NC is just the usual BCBS rates, no competition, no deals, no reduction in premiums, but an increase in ACA premiums.

  14. The plans were rather similar in cost – a bit cheaper for the scaled down Gold, a bit more for the POS plans. Same for premium.

    We have COBRA coverage through the end of 2014, which also similar in price to these plans offered through the exchange, though with less favorable copay/deductible packages.

    But we are reluctant to pull the trigger until they get everything sorted out.

  15. Hi Tony,
    I totally get your frustration, but I’m curious–were the plans you finally saw a better deal than what you can get shopping off the exchange? If yes, will those insurers enroll you directly into those plans? Or is that all part of the “wait and see” you’ll be doing?