Obamacare chaos goes beyond health insurance

Posted Saturday, Nov. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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greene It’s not just the debacle of a failed website or the shock of the cost for those who have managed to get to the place where they learn how much they will have to pay for Obamacare.

It’s not just learning that the only policy you can possibly afford from the health insurance network means your out-of-pocket cost for deductibles and co-pays will be more money than you have or are likely to have if you need medical care.

It’s not just opening the mail from your insurance company and learning your existing plan is being canceled. Or the letter from your doctor saying he or she will not be able to continue to care for you.

It’s not just the memo from your employer saying health insurance will no longer be provided, or that your dependents are being dropped, or that your portion of the cost is going up.

It’s not just the notice from your employer cutting your hours and your pay to part time and realizing that you have also lost your health insurance because part-time employees aren’t included in the company’s benefit plan — or worse, saying you are being terminated.

It’s not just learning that you are required to pay for medical services you can never use such as a 60-year-old man having to purchase a policy that provides for maternity coverage and birth control pills.

No, more than all of those things and other aspects of Obamacare that you didn’t expect or couldn’t imagine, it’s something worse.

It’s the permanent damage done to Americans who are experiencing perhaps the most significant-ever loss of faith in their government and their leaders.

For those whose expectations were raised when Barack Obama promised a “fundamental transformation of the United States” upon his election in 2008, there are bound to be, admitted or not, some doubts that such a transformation has produced any benefits.

If that promise of the government doing more than ever to “take care” of those who imagined such a thing was a good thing was still pending, what must it be like for those who have been waiting for the president’s signature achievement to positively change their lives?

His promise, repeated 24 times, was as clear as any ever made by any president in our history: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period,” he said. “If you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

He described his plan as something wonderful. Healthcare insurance for those who needed it the most. Healthcare insurance that was affordable. So affordable, in fact, that the law was named the “Affordable Care Act.”

Now he faces widespread characterizations of dishonesty. What’s worse, information is developing that he knew what he was saying was not true. Or, at the very least, that he should have known it was not true.

Gallup says fewer than four out of 10 Americans approve of the job Obama is doing. Touring around the country trying to recover some credibility re-explaining his health insurance program doesn’t seem to be working.

Democrats and Republicans alike in Congress are scrambling to craft legislation that would make it possible for people to get at least some of what their president promised.

Even if such efforts are realized, the damage is done. Faith in our system of government has taken a direct hit, and the guy who occupies the Oval Office is solely responsible.

This time, there’s no one else to blame. He owns it all.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. mayorgreene@mayorgreene.com

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