Happy Thanksgiving, first of all.
I had the usual holiday bot response from the New York State of Health Marketplace this morning at 8 a.m. An important message in my inbox, the email advised me, which, of course, could be any message whatsoever. Last Christmas, on the day, that important message told me, in error, that I would not be receiving the subsidy because my income, well within the range for the subsidy, well — no subsidy. That only took five months to fix. The year before I think it was New Year’s Day, I was informed that my health insurance was cancelled and could not be restored until March 1st, but only if I uploaded a series of demanded documents within seven days.
The emails tell you to log on immediately to see the important message. Presumably this is done for your privacy. If they sent you an email saying: congratulations, your enrollment for 2018 is complete, see message in your inbox for details, anybody hacking into your email could see that you were eligible for insurance coverage in 2018. It’s confidential, of course, and your confidentiality is very important to us, so please go to your inbox for this important message.
Your NYSOH inbox shows all these messages marked Template, with various random, inscrutable template numbers. Even in your private inbox there is no indication of what these various messages may say, only the dates they were sent to you. You must download these form letters, in PDF format, to read them. OK, this is a witless bureaucracy and presumably they can save money by having a tireless, unpaid bot send you a generic email each time NYSOH communicates with you, and also, by putting Template 099 next to each message in your inbox, instead of labeling them; enrollment, immediate action required, seven day notice, health insurance in jeopardy, what have you.
Here is the part that truly confounds me. It has nothing to do with Trump defunding Obamacare advertising, or Republican sabotage of a law they despise that happens to allow more low income people to have health insurance, or the current, most excellent president’s fanatical zeal to overturn everything his slippery, lying Kenyan-born secret Muslim predecessor managed to enact. It has nothing to do with the flawed design of the cleverly named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It is just a puzzle, and I have no idea what is at work, outside of plain, simple human stupidity and bureaucratic rigidity. I literally have no clue, outside of the usual shabby consideration given to people affected by any government program that serves those who are in any kind of financial need.
On October 24th I had an email from NYSOH, the only one I had since July. In July the important notice, Template 077, told me what I already knew. It turned out to be a condensed electronic version of the mediator’s decision that I had been entitled to a subsidy all along, and that it was restored, retroactive to the first premium payment of 2017. Bear in mind that this October 24th notice, which I read the other day, was the only notice I will receive about deadlines for re-enrolling to be eligible for health insurance in 2018. Page two (of ten — one blank, four related to registering to vote, in many languages) reads:
Dig this. Not only are the IF categories forgetting one important IF– if you want health insurance for 2018 you will have a thirty day window to get it, but there is something far worse. (OK, I have to admit, in fairness to these sloppy assholes, that page one informs me that “ACTION IS REQUIRED by December 15” so that an appropriate — or inappropriate– decision can be made on my health insurance coverage for 2018).
Here’s the mystifying thing. This October 24 form letter is the only notice you anyone on Obamacare will get regarding your health insurance for 2018. On October 24 you get an important notice telling you that beginning on November 16 you will have thirty days during which to purchase your 2018 insurance plan. Mark your calendar carefully, asshole. Note: we changed the arbitrary deadline this year, it no longer extends to New Year’s eve.
Leave aside all the other institutional problems with a health plan that is based on private insurance companies selling you insurance. Forget the rabid profit-crazed foxes left in charge of the henhouse. Forget all of the gripes about the problems of the original PPACA, unaddressed by a Congress full of twitchy fundraisers, half of them fanatically focused on repeal of the popular law.
I live in New York State. This state was one of the original adopters of the PPACA. When it came into law the state abolished its own program for low income New Yorkers. New York State was all-in from the beginning. It’s not like the state is in the hands of people that have any motive to sabotage the law or deny anybody coverage. That is the case in many states, who refused to participate fully because they opposed the conservative health insurance compromise on principle, because it was sponsored by a post-racial president. (Post-racial, wink wink, you get what I’m sayin’?)
Does anyone have any idea what the logic, if any, of this single important notice given three weeks before the short holiday season window opens for buying the following year’s health insurance could be? Outside of another random example of exceptional American human idiocy?
I suppose I could ask Donna Frescatore, the director of NYSOH, a political appointee who doesn’t allow reps at NYSOH to divulge her name (why should she?) — but that would seem churlish, don’t you think?