Taking care of our own

There are a few common experiences we share as humans, many of which are emotional. Among the universal emotions we share frustration comes close to the top of the list of emotions we wish we never had to experience.

It is a sad commentary on the national order when frustration is thrust upon a people with the expectation of a happy reception.

There could have been an argument that there were people excited and supportive of the Affordable Health Care Act. The idea seems good; get more health care access to people who don’t have it. Who could argue with that? Obviously there are a large number of factions rallying against how to go about creating and implementing that access, but again, who could argue with the basic premise?

What support there was for The Affordable Health Care Act or Obamacare is fading quickly. Even those who supported the idea are jumping ship as technology glitches and cost reports are not meeting advertised expectations.

The federal website is not functioning and each news report seems to move the estimated date of usability farther down the road.

The amount of conflicting information is astounding. You have until March 1, 2014 to enroll in an approved insurance policy, but if you don’t want to be fined you actually only have until Dec. 15, 2013. If you have insurance but it doesn’t meet the federal requirements you will be automatically moved to a policy that does fit the law and that policy could be more expensive, unless you have a grandfathered policy that has not been changed since March 23, 2010.

It is confusing and frustrating to begin with, but the Obama Administration’s attempt to put lipstick on this pig is enough to send me around the bend.

Acknowledge the problems and work toward a solution. Quit spending so much time trumpeting the few people that made it through that quagmire of a website or celebrating the limited number of people that actually saved money.

Idaho has similar problems as the federal government because the state has tied its dingy to the Titanic that is www.healthcare.gov.

The biggest difference at the local level is the desire to fix the problems and to help people.

I have spent a considerable amount of time over the past few weeks researching the process of getting insurance through the Idaho Exchange.

I started with www.yourhealthidaho.org and was immediately overcome by how frustrating the experience was. There was very little information on the website and what information was purported to be on the website was actually links to other web pages.

As I interviewed people at the Idaho Exchange starting with Alberto Gonzalez, the project manager in charge of getting the Idaho Exchange working and ending with Customer Resource Center Representative Loralie Walker, the thing that struck me was a frank acceptance of the reality of the situation.

Walker called using the federal website “frustration with a capital ‘F’”. Gonzalez repeated the point the exchange was not working the way it was intended.

I spoke with local insurance agents Debbie Flandro and Bob Cox. Each spoke about the frustration of not being able to help customers because the federal site was not working.

I approached my research from a personal point of view. I have written in this column about my medical needs and the woefully small number of options available to me to meet those needs affordably.

The deeper I dug the more frustrated I became. The end result is that a person with specific needs was not considered when creating a plan for “universal” coverage. Once again I do not belong in this universe. I will pay the fine and continue as I have for over a decade.

There was a bright spot to all of this research. A very nice find in this ruinness mess.

The people of Idaho.

You can often hear people speak of the friendliness of Idahoans and it often seems like lip service. If you have ever had the chance to live somewhere other than Idaho you will hear the same being said of whatever location you are in. Then you run into the exercise of that friendliness.

Alberto Gonzalez is employed by the state government. For a reporter this usually means there is no time to answer questions and what answers you do get are short, curt and barely applicable to the questions you asked. Mr. Gonzalez was generous with his time. Open about the struggles he and his team were facing. He was equally open about his frustration.

Not to say Mr. Gonzalez is a complainer. He seems genuinely enthused by the opportunity to overcome the challenges in front of him.

Ms. Walker has a job that invites confrontation and frustration. When I interviewed her on Halloween day she was answering the phone as Fiona Sherck while wearing a red wig and green face paint. Ms. Walker gave her time freely and her opinions openly. No matter what question I asked she always returned to the point that she is excited that someday she will be able to help Idahoans go from uninsured to informed and ready to shop without sending them someplace else.

Mrs. Flandro and Mr. Cox both remained professional in the face of frustration. Providing as much information as they had and sympathy at my predicament.

The larger system at work may be impersonal and cold. There may be no help for me, but here at home we are still taking care of our own.

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