My Christmas Gift to the Obamas
This author is a member of the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange (NM HIX). I am also Adjunct Scholar (for Healthcare) for the Rio Grande Foundation, a public policy think tank. Because of these connections, three colleagues from think tanks from around the country recently asked me, "What was going on in New Mexico?"
Our state-based exchange has been hailed as one of the best in the country and yet signup numbers are low. "Why," they queried?
NM HIX has a well-functioning, user-friendly website, in contrast to healthcare.gov. Our call center gets you a human to talk to inside of two minutes. Our carriers' prices are accurate and easily comparable, again unlike the FFM (federally facilitated market). Our increase in insurance premium costs is generally less than 10% higher than pre-Obama, in marked contrast to our one-over neighbor Nevada, where insurance prices have skyrocketed 179%.
The NM HIX has extensive educational outreach activities as well as slick (and expensive) marketing programs in the several languages of our multicultural state. We have "boots on the ground" as navigators and in-person assisters as well as widely-distributed private insurance brokers with long-standing ties to their local communities.
With all this and having already spent or committed well over 50 million dollars, the number of individual New Mexicans who have signed up for Obama's health insurance is... 291.
Washington can spin the facts into pretzels and sow its disinformation. It can outright lie about consequences, such as Obama's Lie of the Year for 2013 (per Politifact). They can hail Covered California -- the ObamaCare Health Exchange in the Golden State -- as a great success, even though seventy percent of California doctors say they will not accept patients "covered" by Covered California because its reimbursement schedule is below their cost of staying in business.
The NM HIX did everything right to sell Obamacare. The people are not buying. The conclusion is simple. The President refuses to listen or more likely, he is unable to hear anything that contradicts what he is convinced is true.
Mr. President, we won't buy Obamacare because we don't like what you are selling. And when you try to force us to buy; when you condescendingly assure us that "Father Knows Best," we do what Americans have always done since 1776. We resist central control of our lives and most particularly, of our freedom to choose.
First Lady Michelle Obama recently urged Americans to, "Make it a Christmas treat to talk about health insurance." To both her and the president I offer my Christmas gift of the truth. They may view it as a lump of coal in their stocking, but truth is always a gem of the first water. Besides, quoting the Bible is a good idea at this time of the year. (John 8:32) "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Deane Waldman MD MBA ("Dr. Deane") is the author of recently released The Cancer in Healthcare; Host of the free newsletter, "The Hidden Enemy;" a member of the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange; Adjunct Scholar for the Rio Grande Foundation; and Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, Pathology, and Decision Science at University of New Mexico.