Monday, October 21, 2013

Healthcare Update

Drag counter to 15:40 to hear the President's remarks this am.

Terrific talk by the President this morning in the Rose Garden, giving an update on the Obamacare rollout, and addressing the website problems. In the middle of his remarks a woman in the group standing behind him, started to faint, The President effortlessly and graciously turned around, and put his arm around her to support her, until someone came to take her inside. A Master's grace.

The website is a mess. In fact "It stank", according to one letter he read from someone who eventually got through to complete the process, and was very happy with the results (his premium will drop from $1,600 per month to $600). The website will be fixed, the President promised - because the 20 million people who have visited it so far want to buy insurance, and because there are a lot of insurance companies who would like to complete the sales.

But Obamacare is not about a website. It's about providing coverage to people who are without insurance - people whose employers don't provide insurance, and who cannot afford to buy it on their own, or cannot get affordable coverage because of a preexisting condition. The product is sound (Most states have a good number of providers, offering a broad range of plans, that for the first time can be easily compared.) People want the product - they want the coverage. There surely are some window shoppers in the 20 million number of site visitors, but most of those folks want to buy insurance. And as a former Marketing executive at a major US-based consumer goods company, I can say this with certainty: When the product is sound, and people want to buy it, both sides of the purchase transaction - the buyer and the seller - will find a way to complete the deal. The buyer for a very important product like healthcare will hang in there. And the seller will find one or more ways to clean out bottlenecks in the distribution chain and complete the sale.

HHS might extend the enrollment period beyond March 31. They might even reduce or suspend the Year 1 individual mandate penalty. Republicans will call these failures. Democrats will say this is healthy adjustment to a major new program. Both will be right to some degree. And now I'll put myself way out on a limb:

By next Fall, very much in time for the November midterms, Obamacare will have 8-10 million enrollees, one third of which will be under 35, making the program a triumph, that will contribute significantly to the Republicans' loss of the House in the midterms.

Never underestimate the power of a determined shopper and an equally determined seller to complete a sale!

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