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Adele Elliott: How the glitch stole health care


Adele Elliott



"Affordable" health care seems to be on the minds of almost everyone in this country. There is no doubt that it is gravely needed. People are dying from poverty. 


Unfortunately, the website for the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) is in critical condition. Originally, online wait times were often hours. When a consumer actually reached the site, they were required to log in with an ID in order to enroll. 


"It's counterintuitive to deal with," said Brian Bodner, president of the New York metro chapter of the Association of Health Underwriters. "It's a nightmare. Everything was rushed. There's no need for it." 


Consumer Reports, the national consumer-watchdog group, is advising people to "stay away" from enrolling in Obamacare until serious technical flaws with the program are fixed 


These problems with technical issues are hard to understand. Amazon knows every book I have purchased for the last eight years. They send me sales pitches based on subjects I have only even looked at. If I view a piece of clothing on line, similar pieces pop up on every page, no matter that they have nothing to do with shopping. (Note to retailers: It is winter now. I am no longer interested in those sandals I looked at six months ago.) 


Surely, the United States government can design a website that is better than Payless Shoe Source. After all, they supposedly have the technology to eavesdrop on the private phones calls of everyone in the world. Then again, they must be too bored snooping on inane babble to even think of fixing the ACA website. 


There are many accusations of sabotage. Some Republicans are accused of overloading the website to make waits even longer. 


"Governors in 26 states have refused to assist applicants and have blocked the use of so-called "navigators," whose job is to help people understand the law and sign up for its benefits. They are making sure that when a constituent calls with questions, they get no answers. 


"There was the government shutdown, during which Republicans offered more than 40 measures to cripple the law. They failed in every sense, but it still cost the country $24 billion." (Sally Kalson, Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, Oct. 26, 2013) 


Opponents are using the glitch as ammunition to prove that the law isn't working. We sometimes forget that Obamacare isn't a website, it's a law. 


I'm not sure what the big deal is. Americans are quite used to standing in lines. Some of us will camp out in front of a store to be one of the first to purchase a new iPhone or video game. We wait for hours to view the first release of a movie that, one week later, will have no queues. 


In Columbus, the opening of Chick-Fil-A motivated hundreds of people to spend the night in tents, just for the chance to receive some coupons for chicken sandwiches. 


But, back to healthcare ... it is just not "affordable" for most people. "Mississippi has the highest poverty rate in the country ... " (David Boston, Nov. 18, 2013) 


I tried to find out where poor people get health care (besides in an emergency room). As it turns out, not around here. I could not find any medical care on even a sliding scale in Columbus or Starkville. I did find The closest clinics were in Jackson. (Yes, I know about the Good Samaritan Clinic. They are doing good work, but their rules exclude the unemployed, even if they are too sick to hold down a job.) 


I don't know when we got so mean. Those who have health care appear to want to block it to those who cannot afford it. Some people in heterosexual marriages want to deny that happiness to gays. Why? Will either of these hurt anyone else? 


Truthfully, I am not impressed with the Affordable Care Act. It is still too expensive for many. But, it is a start. I hope we can see it objectively, and forgive glitches that we would overlook in any other site. I wish for really reasonably-priced insurance for everyone. Right now, the ACA is the only thing we have.


Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.


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