At work, I have been going through a few weeks of…well, if I can’t call it Hell, it can at least be described as Purgatory.  I work for a health insurance company which is participating in the Oregon insurance exchange, and we have been flooded by calls from new members.  Almost everyone in the company has been on the phones, talking to people who are frustrated about having to deal with Cover Oregon (the state exchange) and frustrated about having to deal with us.

Which leaves me with some questions.  Yes, the Cover Oregon website and phone line have been a fiasco, sort of like the federal healthcare.gov operation was when it first started.  But–and I can’t get into too many details here, because it’s a public blog and this is my employer I’m talking about–the company I work for was not exactly prepared for all the new business coming our way, either.  We were understaffed, so customers have been on hold for long times, often only to have the phone system hang up on them.  We’re not always sure where the applications of the new members are, or what their status is.  And yes, our website has been so overwhelmed by the amount of people trying to use it that it has experienced–can I use the word?–glitches. 

If we were a government agency, the conservatives would be all over us.  Healthcare.gov was bashed for the exact same things that are happening to us, by the usual suspects who say government can’t do anything right.  Yet I’m not hearing any commentary from our local talkers about the problems at the insurance providers.  It’s as if our mistakes somehow don’t count because our company is run for private profit.

It makes no sense to me.  But I know that our glitches are not going to be talked about the same way the government glitches were, because they can’t be used for a political purpose.  And it doesn’t make a difference to my daily life.  I’ll keep taking the angry calls, anyway.

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When I leave the office after a long week of overtime hours, after hundreds of questions from customers frustrated with their health care plans, I need a drink.  I need a drink that feels like I feel.  A beer that is dark and bitter.  The taste isn’t easy.  Something that is flirted with by irritating hipsters and shunned by normal people.  Something that shouldn’t be marketed to stay at home moms.  There might be a little chocolate or blackberry flavor mixed in there, but that won’t make the drink any friendlier or less intense.

Yeah, that’s exactly the sort of drink I need right now.  Man, it’s been a hard week.

It has been a little surreal watching the conservative reaction to Obamacare problems over the past few weeks.  I have never before seen conservatives get this upset over people not having insurance coverage.  The hand wringing as they read the letters from their constituents who have lost their insurance plans…the fiery anger as they ask, what will those poor families do now??  As I watch them cry their crocodile tears, I feel the urge to ask a couple questions–

Where were you guys when many of us were suffering under the existing health care system?  Where were you when people were being refused insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions, or kicked off their insurance plan because it was discovered that they had a doctor’s visit somewhere in their past?  I don’t remember your sadness then–in fact, it seemed that you didn’t care at all.  Okay, I get it.  The website isn’t working and that’s embarrassing.  And it is frustrating for people to lose an insurance plan they happened to like, even if it wasn’t a very good quality plan.  But at least there is a website, and the people who lose their coverage can go to shop on the exchange.  Before, if you were rejected by an insurance company for whatever reason, you were likely to be rejected by other insurance companies as well, and there was nowhere else for you to go.  Did you have anything to say about that?

We know, we know, you’re against Obamacare.  So what is your solution, your alternative?  And please don’t say it’s to leave the health care system as it is now–that’s not an acceptable answer.  If you have a much better idea for fixing health care, what is it, and why didn’t you present it earlier, back when the system badly needed reforming?  You’re whining about it now, but it is too little, too late. 

Where have you been?

As I sit here working away at my desk, I hear your voice shouting in my headphones.  “We need to stop Obamacare…we have to defund it…the American people must be defended…”

Psssst….hey you…health care reform is already here.  Our state exchange website is open, and in the next few days, I will be helping my parents to sign up on it.  My mother, who was previously turned down by insurance companies–not for any serious pre-existing conditions, mind you–only for a single visit to the doctor in her past–she will finally be able to get insurance.  So will my father, who recently found contract employment which does not offer health benefits.  At his age, it is difficult for him to find a job which isn’t contract or temporary.  Some of my friends who were uninsured will also be getting coverage.  If being able to breathe easier about their well-being means that I’m selling out to big government, I’m okay with that.

And here’s another thing–the medical insurance company I work for is already enrolling new members for our exchange plans.  My employers are doing what any normal business would do–competing for customers.  We are expecting tens of thousands of new members.  So what do you think is going to happen now?  Do you think that if you lie on the ground and kick your feet and scream, my company is going to turn around and drop all those people it just signed up?  Or do you think my bosses would prefer to see those premium payments come in?

And yes, this is why I’m still at my desk so late, listening to you.  I’ve been working long hours because of health care reform.  In the real world in which I reside, this law is a done deal.  But I can understand what you’re doing, you over there on the Congress floor.  Hey, I like a bit of good drama just as much as the next person.  And that’s all this is–drama.  Whether it’s being done for votes from your base, or prestige, or whatever else.  All that huffing and puffing of righteous anger is only for show.  And you know that as well as I do.

Thought I’d stick the happy ending in the title since my previous post was all about how I don’t believe in them.

Maybe it’s just people trying to put a positive spin on the situation, but I’m hearing more and more about how the Supreme Court striking down health care reform could be a good thing.  The idea being that the potential of health care reform going away will scare or upset voters enough to increase Obama’s re-election chances, and that it will give the Obama campaign more negative material to throw at the Republicans.  Apparently it might also be a good opportunity to re-inspire some of those progressives who have become disillusioned with Obama.

I have to say that I’m not feeling very hopeful about the health care ruling right now.  Perhaps I’m taking the unpleasant questioning of the Justices at face value.  Am I the one Eeyore in the crowd who’s not seeing the silver lining here?  Could a bad ruling by the Court indeed lead to a better outcome in the end?

Well, my hope is that the ruling does not turn out like I fear it will, and that health care reform remains in place.  This plan will help so many uninsured and underinsured Americans, and it has already changed things for the better in my own insurance industry.  No amount of strategizing about elections or imagined political gains could make losing it worthwhile to me.