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.

Ohhhhkay…so as everyone knows by now, the Obamacare website isn’t working so well.  And sadly, neither is the local insurance exchange website for my state, even though I live in one of those states which were eager to participate in Obamacare, and did not have to be dragged kicking and screaming into it.

I’ve listened to Jon Stewart make fun of the problems.  I’ve heard President Obama quipping about how frustrated he is, in his usual suave way.  Conservatives have been mocking the situation, and rightly so.  It’s an embarrassing mess.  Although their solution would be to scrap the whole thing and go back to the old, badly functioning health care system, so I don’t know how seriously I can take their point of view. 

Thing is, this is no humorous matter to me.  I’m not laughing, I’m a little anxious.  As I’ve written before, I have family members who are uninsured and need access to the exchange.  I agree with President Obama–I think the Obamacare product itself is good.  And I love the hippie trippy psychedelic commercials Oregon is running for its CareOregon site.  But what’s the point of cool advertisements if you’re not able to purchase the goods?  As always, my home state is better at creative expression than it is at being practical 🙂

My family is going to give it a couple more weeks, as we hope that all the “glitches” will get worked out with time.  Worst case scenario, we’ll just fill out one of the paper applications.  We need this and are determined to get it.  But there could be an easier way.

So c’mon, President Obama.  We want to buy the product you’re selling.  Let us be your customers!

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.