An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

OMG the ACA is like FML

Last night I was watching “The Daily Show” from Monday night featuring a small bit on the inability for many of us to sign up for an “Obamacare” plan because the website where we would do so is having technical difficulties. I’d embed the clip here, but ironically the button to facilitate that is not working. Who coded your website, Jon Stewart? THE GOVERNMENT?

Essentially it showcased news outlets reporting on this technical glitch including footage of NBC reporter Mara Schiavocampo who was put on hold for over fifteen minutes when she called the help line. Fifteen whole minutes. Can you even believe that? It then cut to Jon’s face and his knowing smirk where it paused for effect, and then it showed a picture of people camping outside a movie theater. We are a culture, he pointed out, who will sleep outside for three days in order to see a movie about shirtless werewolves, BUT DO NOT MAKE ME WAIT 15 GODDAMN MINUTES FOR LIFE-SAVING HEALTH COVERAGE.


Over the last couple of months I’ve received no less than 200 reminders from my insurance provider that it will cease to exist on December 31, 2013 and that if I do not buy coverage that is offered through the government exchange I will no longer be covered after that date. This means that I have to find Leta new coverage as well. The two of us couldn’t qualify for private insurance, but because we’re lucky enough to live in a state that has a high risk pool for people with pre-existing conditions, we were able to purchase very high-premium, high-deductible, pretty much just catastrophic insurance.

Marlo qualified for a private insurance policy because she was not born with a pre-existing condition. She was also lucky enough that her birthday occurred before insurance companies dropped individual plans for children altogether when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. Totally dick move on the part of healthcare companies if you ask me OR ANYONE ELSE WHO CARES ABOUT CHILDREN.

The high risk pool that covers me and Leta is now going away, and when I researched the plans that would be offered in the exchange, I was very happy to find out that I will be able to purchase far better insurance for far less money. Not only I will be saving hundreds of dollars a month on health insurance for both me and Leta, but we will also both have dental coverage. My new plan will also cover mental health, something my old plan must have regarded as an imaginary condition considering how much I have paid out of pocket to see my therapist and psychiatrist over the last eight years.

Is it frustrating that I cannot yet sign up for this new coverage? Sure. Technical difficulties are never fun. But this is far less terrifying than being in the highest carriage on a ferris wheel when the motor suddenly breaks. I get the feeling that those of us who have been paying insane premiums and deductibles, those of us who couldn’t afford those premiums and have lived under the threat of medically-induced bankruptcy, we’re used to dealing with frustration far more intense. The website won’t load? Okay, I’ll try it again in an hour. And if I still can’t access it? I’ll keep trying. And then I’ll try again. A fifteen minute wait on the phone? I’ll use the time I’m on hold to do an impromptu square dance in the kitchen BECAUSE MY CHILD AND I FINALLY GET ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE YES MY CAPS LOCK GOT STUCK TODAY. Mara Schiavocampo, I would like to invite you to a special dance in my kitchen. Refreshments will be served.

  • BeckyCochrane

    What a nightmare. My heart aches for your family.

  • I’m not sure about Utah but Chicago can’t issue divers licenses in a timely manner and our city is a fiscal mess. Our government is fiscal mess. Our government is shut down and I’m suppose to believe they have come up with the answer to healthcare? And yes, I’m judging them by their web site that does not work properly. The fact that they did not anticipate the number of enrollment clicks is astonishing in of itself. Servers crash. Plan for it.
    BUT, I am willing to give the ACA a chance. I’m willing to go forward and cautiously take a look at the opportunities it may or not offer. I’m willing to lower my resistance; I’m not willing to do a happy dance on spec. Show me the results. Until then it’s baby steps for me and a a genuine wish for the best possible outcome. Americans need something to work.

  • Meg

    ONLY fifteen minutes on hold?! When I called the insurance company to try to get the pre-approved visit covered because the office billed it under the doctor’s private practice rather than the pre-approved group practice (of which the doctor is a member), I spent hours on hold over the course of days. At least a half hour each phone call.

    Also, not having to pay hundreds of dollars for a med-check visit? Yes, please.

  • EMP

    Beth- i agree, that sounds like a reasonable approach. But I think the current way is sort of a staggered enrollment, since people have a few months to apply. A very unorganized stagger perhaps…

  • EMP

    Matilda- Just out of curiosity, do you know how much you’ll be paying next year after the ACA rolls out?

  • EMP

    Thank you for sharing your families story. It is events like these that highlight why we need health care reform (I’d like it to go even further than the ACA, but I am NOT complaining. I’m a big ACA fan) Everyone needs healthcare- it is as simple as that. We’re all vulnerable. These sort of catastrophic illnesses can happen to anyone, at any age. There are a lot of wonderful things about being young, but no one is invincible.

  • EMP

    Not necessarily. The introduction of previously uncovered young and generally healthy people will probably cover it. Then eventually they will age and might start to have more claims but there will be more young people entering into the system. It’s like car insurance. I’ve been paying for 20 years, and have never had a claim. So for 20 years I’ve subsidizing the people who do have car accidents. Someone with my luck and safer driving habits is fantastic to have in the insurance pool. I had no health insurance from 21-30 and was quite healthy. Similarly, if the ACA was in effect then, I would have been a good addition to a pool.

  • Brittany

    I also want to add, that yes, it might take a bit to get in the system, this is coverage that doesn’t even START until January 1st.

    People aren’t missing out on healthcare each day they can’t get in.

    Deep breath people, you’ll get in, and when you do, the more the merrier.

  • Janie T

    Halleluiah and amen for hearing from someone whose life will be better from ACA!! All I have heard is “I don’t need it, what’s the point of it, why do we have to waste government resources/tax resources for something none of us need.” Oh and that people are already deciding that they will not get the insurance and will just pay the fine instead. Argh! The lucky people who have decent insurance don’t understand that our country NEEDS this option exactly for folks like you! I am so glad to hear that your life will be better because of “Obamacare”, that Imma gonna do a dance! Refreshments will be served, indeed!

  • Janie T

    I just heard a report that 20 million people are trying to sign up. And that 7% rate the service from the website as “satisfactory”. Chew on that.

  • hokieamy

    I don’t agree with the ACA and I haven’t been able to get on the site or get someone on the phone without 1)being disconnected or 2) they can’t pull up my information. Spending $93M on a website and not beta testing it? Brilliant…brilliant.

    And I am also in what I am assuming is the small portion of Americans who this is completely screwing over. I work for a small company who doesn’t provide health care. I don’t have (nor do my kids) pre-existing conditions. Yet because of such things at adding essentials benefits I don’t need (maternity care, mental health and substance abuse), my premiums are going from $573 for myself and my two kids to $945 a month. Not affordable at all. I also do not qualify for any subsidies.

  • cynthia

    Time magazine had a great article on the state of american health care back in March (?). The conclusion of the article is that, while maybe heading in the right direction, Obama care is not the right solution. And what I see as the ultimate problem in the past, future, and current system is/are the dependence on the insurance companies. Doctors and hospitals no longer charge patients fair market prices for health care because they are able to inflate the price to the highest that the insurance companies will pay. This happens anywhere that insurance companies mediate health care bills creating a vastly inflated, market- unto- itself heath care system. In perfect world insurance would only exist as optional for catastrophic events. Patients would be able to pay fairly and negotiate directly with doctors and hospitals. I would not find myself in a situation with my sick daughter in which the doctor was so focused on insurance that she barely got to my kids problem (true… I live in Massachusetts). I realize this is a libertarian solution in which much undoing of what is currently in place would have to happen. I don’t think it is impossible…but, maybe unlikely due to the fact that this country operates only within framework of a 2-party system and any idea moving too far away from those are held suspect. Anyway…what we can absolutely agree on is that something needs to change. I just hate that ACA does not really deal with the problem at the roots.

  • Meg B

    I HATE that people are all “well, the website doesn’t work OBAMA CARE IS THE WORST!”. My husband had the same problem as you, he has asthma, a pre-existing condition and until we got married and he got my insurance he paid a ridiculously high, ridiculously stupid amount of money for health insurance. Plus, it was health insurance that did not include prescription coverage so on top of all that he had to pay $250.00 a month for an inhaler. Screw you, insurance companies.
    I love when people share stories about how Obamacare has helped them. Because all of the people who are hating on it aren’t saying how it has screwed them over…nope, most of those people (congressman and senators…cough cough…assholes..cough cough) get health insurance for life so they could care less.
    Go you. Rock out your new insurance. Get your teeth cleaned FOR FREE! I’m doing a happy dance with you!

  • Kelsey Brae

    We’re a family of 5 living in Oregon making 50,000 a year, and IF the adults in this house had insurance (which we don’t,) it would go up to $260 including the discount per month. Our old plan, which we also couldn’t afford, was $175 a month. I’m hoping next year finagling that extra cash won’t be a problem, but for now, we can’t afford that. Our kids are insured, (thanks Obama) and my husband and I just keep our fingers crossed.

    We landed in the very small pocket of people who don’t benefit from the ACA, and I’M OKAY WITH THAT. It’s the best that could be done with the kind of push back received. I think it’s a huge step in the right direction.

  • matildarf

    I haven’t been able to compare plans yet, one of the glitches on the website. Looking at the pricing though, the top gold plan is still less expensive than what I’m paying now. I expect I’ll save 200 or so a month. I’ll take it!

  • You’re one of the lucky ones who will get lower premiums. Most of my friend will see a dramatic increase in their premiums.

  • Kristen Lewis Dunder

    That is awesome, Kelsey! I’m in Oregon too…good to hear your story.

  • Lauren3


  • Is it lucky to have the medical conditions that make the previous premiums outrageously high? In a previous comment I mentioned that I have two nephews with type 1 diabetes. Their premiums are ridiculously high. Would you consider the lowering of their premiums in contrast to their lifelong disease lucky?

  • Amy Gomoljak

    I don’t know why everyone is so scared of it. I think it is absolutely crazy that your employer gets to decide your healthcare coverage, and if you leave that job, you lose it anyway. Healthcare is something we should be able to pick and choose depending whats right for our own families.

  • thisiscyndi

    Here’s the thing though – you have ALREADY been paying for those people when they wait to get care because they cant afford it and end up in the emergency room which is 5x more expensive than if they had been able to go see a regular doctor… and then DONT PAY THE BILL.

  • Eliza Twist

    Very well put and I wish you much congratulations! En masse we skate over the ever important details of the policy issues. The details that actually come to bear on our real lives. Which in my opinion goes to show that most of us are not really engaging with our actual lives. I’ll bet that there are a whole bunch of folks who worked long hours putting all those details together who would really appreciate knowing that your family benefited from them rather than having to spend the majority of their time putting out “fires” like the news story Jon Stewart (I do love the Daily Show) highlighted.

  • issascrazyworld

    Right now my daughter and I are covered through my job, but if we weren’t we’d need this too. My other two kids are covered by their dad, but neither of them have pre-existing conditions. I’m so glad this exists. FINALLY! I hope you and Leta get coverage soon.

  • tahoekj

    Totally! Agree 100%.

  • Nicole Placek Tankovich

    Ditto on the need to ditch unreasonably high expectations. We live in the US, not a utopia.

  • Nicole Placek Tankovich

    Getting excited about having access to affordable healthcare makes me feel like a grown up. Ugh, when did I get grown?

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    Insurance companies don’t take your premiums and stick the money under their mattress. They invest it, hoping to earn more money from the investments than they have to pay out for healthcare related costs.

  • tahoekj

    Love your statement about “basic human needs” being something a government should concern itself with…it’s a concept that seems so basic, so elementary to what makes us human and the reason we have societies and governments to begin with, and yet it is completely lost on huge chunks of the population here…and frankly, the Democrats in office stuggle to communicate it much of the time.

    People die needlessly because of our current system. People are forced to wipe out their savings and hopes for financial security at the same time they have to fight for their lives. Children were denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions until September 2010.

    ACA may not be perfect, but our previous system was evil.

  • Yvonne

    What I’m most angry about this launch of the ACA and the shut down of the Federal Gov’t…. is the inability from the Obama Administration, or the Democratic Party, or even the left-lean media as a whole, to set the record straight and promote the Act as it is. Yes, the law was passed 3 years ago. Yes, parts of the Act has been in effect for a while (covering your kids through age 26). Yes, it’s a done deal.
    But have none of them not paying any attention that the Tea Party GOP House has been trying anything to overturn this in the past 3 years? The House delayed all sorts of bills in the past 3 years, but had never fail to always call for and pass a somewhat “useless” bill to overturn AFA, knowing it would never get pass by the Senate. They have been doing this useless act very often in the past 3 years. Ordinary people may not pay attention to this, but politicians in DC, political news correspondents of any news house, should have known that the GOP in the House will never rest on this and they should have counter-attack it head-on, instead of beng so complacent and see it as “oh it will never get through the Senate” and disregard them.
    The letter from about 80 or so Tea Party House Reps to Boehner that urge him to use the Gov’t shutdown as a tactic to overturn ACA surfaced back in August, two months before the shutdown. And even then the Obama Administration failed to come up with a strategy to overturn this attack. And the only way to do this effectively…. is to sell the Affordable Care Act, as it is.
    I see all these stories below about great ACA is, not only for uninsured low-income people (that the GOP supporter couldn’t care less), but also for the middle class who already have other insurance plans, the self-employed business owners, the white, even the well off. Because ACA provides a competition, a level playing field, for all Americans. It provides a safety net if you want to quit your job and open your own business. It provides a bargaining power for business owners which only have 10-12 staff and could never get a decent plan from any private insurance companies.
    Back to my original point, I am frustrated at how the Obama Administration and the Dems as a whole have done nothing in the past 3 years, and even as critically as now, to promote ACA, to overturn the negativity of it. GOP is using campaign money for TV ads to slash ACA, why can’t the Democrats do the same? Why aren’t they using any resources to counter-attack? Why? Is it because they don’t want to waste any money on a Bill past 3 years ago? But don’t they also know the GOP has never let it go?
    I am a hard core liberal but I have to admit I’m impressed by the guerilla tactics of the GOP in this, and appalled by the Democrats reaction (or the lack of). Dooce, since your site is very popular and I’m don’t have anywhere else to channel my thoughts, I hope my humble veiw will get across far….. sorry for the rant.

  • Actually, the rates vary quite a bit depending upon where you live, and if the state you live in offers the expanded medicaid. The states without expanded medicaid are going to have far more people uninsured or forcing them to pay higher rates.

  • yep. Public hospitals are funded via tax dollars. So we’re already paying. People really don’t seem to understand that point, it’s kinda weird.

  • I suffered two pulmonary embolisms back in 2011 (randomly, no one yet knows why they happened) and my total care was around $100,000. My monthly medicine that I had to take for eight months cost a tad over $3700. A MONTH. My daily blood thinning shot was $124 bucks. I am still paying off my copays, which totally around twelve thousand. But if I didn’t have insurance? I would’ve had to declare bankruptcy. Or, die, because I can’t afford almost four thousand a month for meds, and that medicine was the ONLY one that didn’t make my liver try to shut down. And without the ACA, I’d never qualify for insurance because of these PEs combined with my asthma and suspected auto-immune disorder.

    So, yeah. Until you have a crisis, people in this country just REALLY don’t understand what’s at stake.

    The ACA is very flawed, I will not argue that. But there are also plenty of benefits, one of which being that insurance companies can NO LONGER deny coverage for pre-existing conditions nor charge more for them. I’m glad we have the ACA, and I say this as someone who earns too much to qualify for a subsidy, should my company suddenly decide to no longer offer healthcare (which they are still offering, as an aside, I love my company).

  • Also, states not participating and relying on the federal market place exchanges aren’t offering as many options. Local state exchanges can have more healthcare providers offering plans at competitive rates. so the states refusing to participate and not expanding medicaid are making the options worse for their residents.

  • Carla King

    I called the California office and was surprised to learn how this works. I guess the main idea is to help people get covered who can’t otherwise qualify. I honestly was under the impression that it was designed to help make health insurance both universal and affordable.

    They don’t seem to care about good healthcare coverage. It’s really about getting barebones coverage. But if you can’t afford the deductibles and coinsurance, you can quickly lose ground and risk losing everything you own, should you or someone in your family get sick.

    I was told to multiply 9.5% by our annual income of $35,000, and then divide by 12. If the monthly payment for my husband’s company’s most affordable plan is lower than that amount, it’s considered affordable, and we don’t qualify for any subsidies.

    His company’s most affordable plan is an extremely high deductible plan with high coinsurance. The $560/month we’re paying is for Kaiser. It makes meeting ends every month difficult for us, but we are fearful of having anything less than that.

    Our hope was that Obamacare would lower the monthlly premium. His benefits hotline rep said that the premium changes haven’t been announced yet, but they are not expecting much (if any) change. Because we’re moving to a non-Kaiser area in California, the only comparable option through his company is $68 more a month. Because of this we’re forced to go the PPO route at a savings of $128/month but with much higher deductibles and dreaded coinsurance.

    The guy I spoke to at CoveredCa office said most people he’s spoken with have been very disappointed. How this was presented to the public just isn’t how it’s actually playing out when you try to qualify and lower your premiums.

  • KonekoN1nj4

    15 minutes? Psshh that’s nothing. When I had issues with my insurance company (over them deciding that because I I had a history of depression my pregnancy was high risk and they therefore only had to pay 60% of my delivery costs and none of the prenatal care) I would call and wait on the phone for 20-30 minutes just to talk to a rep. I once had to call the IRS and waited on the phone for no joke, 45 minutes.

    A 15 minute wait to talk to someone that hundreds of thousands of other people are also trying to talk to, to go through a process that has to take at least 15 minutes to complete…seems…not that big of a deal.

  • Cathy

    Holy smokes! That’s awesome!

  • Cathy

    Jennifer, best of luck to you with your treatment!

  • Holly

    Yes. Thank you. This is the first time I have heard someone speak what is in my head….. Lets fix the REAL problem….

  • Cathy

    Try logging on after 10 PM. That’s when I got it to work. I’m not too upset about the website being overrun though; I’m glad this many people are interested in it! Besides, there’s no foolproof way to beta test a huge-scale website that is first of its kind like this one is.

  • D J H


  • Well, I’ve been in the tech industry for fifteen years, specifically as a Quality Assurance tester, and actually, it IS possible to build a site that can better handle the traffic. The cost for this site alone is astounding to me, and I work on global websites that generate A LOT of traffic. So to me, the complaints about the website failing, STILL, after ten days of operating are pretty valid. The company who built the site, or whoever the vendor is that’s hosting the site, did a terrible job.

  • Cara

    Sounds familiar. We are in the same boat: self-employed, pre-existing, family of 4. We pay around $1200/mo for health/dental coverage w/ $30 co-pays and $1500 deductible. I did preliminary research on Covered CA website and the closest plan to ours through the same insurance company is 30% higher with double the deductible and does not include dental. We will have to downsize our plan because we cannot afford the rate hike. Hoping the small business tax breaks help out!

  • Sara

    When I was in middle school, a dear friend was diagnosed with cancer. She beat it. From then onward though, she was denied insurance coverage. When her cancer came back in high school, her parents had to pay for her chemo and radiation out of pocket. This put them over a MILLION dollars in debt, and they had to declare bankruptcy.

    After years of trying to recover financially, her father was completely overwhelmed and depressed. He killed himself. If my friend had had access to healthcare coverage, there would have been no reason for her family to go into debt and declare bankruptcy. Her father would have been able to afford treatment for his depression. He would still be alive.

    The terrible state of healthcare pre-ACA ruined her family financially and emotionally. And there is no reason why ANYONE in a developed country should ever have that happen to them. (Obviously no one should have to go through that anywhere, but especially in a country that could have the infrastructure and ability to provide healthcare).

  • Helen

    Why are you going out of your way to pick a fight with this Jason, whoever he is? As if he somehow implied that your nephews having diabetes fills him with delight?

  • Sadie

    You may have a very good point here; I don’t know enough about it to tell. But when you say, “In perfect world insurance would only exist as optional for catastrophic
    events. Patients would be able to pay fairly and negotiate directly
    with doctors and hospitals,” I wish you would qualify that a bit more? For example, what would constitute a “catastrophe?” (Beyond the extreme, obvious things?) Would there be a reasonable yearly out-of-pocket cap for people, so that if they and their families ended up with a whole string of non-“catastrophes” which nonetheless aggregate into a whopping total amount, it would be covered? Things like that.

  • I’m not picking a fight. I’m adding a dimension to his definition of lucky. It’s not an either/or scenario here, that is, either you feel delighted that Heather or my nephews have disease or high premiums or you don’t.

  • crash1212

    I have a friend who hasn’t been able to get insurance due to preexisting condition. He’s doing the same dance in his kitchen! Can’t wait to sign up! I’m so happy you’ll be able to get good coverage for less $$$ – THAT’S what the ACA is all about!

  • KristenfromMA

    It’s a very pro-insurance company law. We need to do better (Medicare for all!).

  • Elissa

    As a Canadian (and yes I know it’s been said already), I can’t get over how complicated the process is. I have NO idea what PPOs and coinsurance are… Seriously, wouldn’t it just be simpler to pay higher taxes and get universal health care? I don’t really understand the resistance to this. Well, I don’t really understand the resistance to Obamacare either, so I dunno. Maybe I just don’t get America.

  • Niki

    I’m with the Canadians – I just don’t understand how there’s even a debate on this issue as late as 2013.

    I’m Australian and we’ve had Medicare (universal healthcare) since the 70s. We also have dental schemes that cover anyone under 18 and low income earners who are 18 and over. We recently implemented DisabilityCare (a national disability insurance scheme that supports anyone with a disability). I see these programs as fundamental and an absolute triumph of our successive governments – even our most right-wing politicians recognise the benefit of these programs and would never even think of touching them.

    I wonder if many years into the future, if/when the USA has actually implemented proper universal healthcare, whether all those who currently oppose such reforms on purely ideological grounds will realise how shortsighted their views actually are.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more