December 16 2013

ObamaCare: Stop Me Before I Debit Again!

Patrice J. Lee

For families in Washington state the Grinch who stole Christmas is their state’s ObamaCare exchange, as Charlotte already has noted.

I want to add a few words about this bizarre and remarkable situation.  To make matters worse for those who have seen surprise deductions from their bank accounts, the website is down and they can’t even log in to rectify the situation.

Oh, and Washington’s rapacious state health exchange may not be satisfied with only one gulp, a local new station reports:

For the second week in a row, the Washington Healthplanfinder website is down, and it's causing problems for people who are dealing with billing issues. Some of them say the website is mistakenly debiting their accounts.

Shannon Bruner of Indianola logged on to her checking account Monday morning, and found she was almost 800 dollars in the negative.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘I got screwed,’” she said.

The Bruners enrolled for insurance on the Washington Healthplanfinder website, last October. They say they selected the bill pay date to be December 24th. Instead the Washington Healthplanfinder drafted the 835 dollar premium Monday.

They're not alone.

One viewer emailed KING 5 saying, "They drafted my account this morning for a second time."

Another woman on Facebook with a similar problem commented, "We are all in the same boat."

“We've got to figure out how to get money to pay the bills for the next week or two until we have another check come through,” said Josh Bruner. “It's just crazy.”

The Bruners are in an unenviable but still viable position of being able to absorb an $800 loss. How many Americans who sign up for ObamaCare are in that position? And what about the viewer who has had his/her account debited a second time? For many working families $800 is the rent or mortgage. It is funds for electricity, heat and groceries. At this time of year it may also be money for Christmas presents for the little ones.

This should be a huge cautionary tale to anyone signing up for ObamaCare. In Washington, you grant the exchange direct access to your account which allows them to debit your account –prematurely or incorrectly. Private sector websites that collect payments as they should inspire trust that when you set a payment to a future date it won’t occur at the wrong time, throwing your personal account into ruin. When errors happen, companies work quickly to fix it for customers. It doesn’t appear that Washington exchange administrators feel the same kind of urgency as days tick by.

The next question is how soon will this issue be rectified and the “glitches” corrected to ensure that it doesn’t happen to others? In addition, the Bruners and others who’ve had their accounts go into the red are likely being assessed penalties by the day from their financial institutions. Will they be compensated for that?

The woeful rollout of ObamaCare at the federal and state level underscores government’s ineptitude at executing complex programs. As we’ve reported, the government is not efficient –and often not effective- at delivering goods and services. Waste, red tape, regulatory burdens and processes stifle innovation.

Why then is the President and Congress entrusting to government the stewardship of our healthcare system?

 

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