Sebelius to Ignorant Jon Stewart: Obamacare Exchanges Provide the 'First Online Mall'
While a great deal of attention has deservedly been given to Kathleen Sebelius's refusal to directly answer comedian Jon Stewart's question about why Obamacare's individual mandate was not been deferred until 2015 like the employer mandate was, at least one of her other comments about the wonders of the government-controlled "marketplace" has been ignored, and shouldn't be.
Her supposedly expert observation, staring at about the 4:35 mark of the video found here (HT Hot Air): "People who have been waiting for a long time finally have a market to choose from." ... "You can also then figure out if your doctor's in the plan that you want, if the network of hospitals is in the plan you want, what kind of drugs you take, is that in the plan you want. You've never been able to do that before." She took it further, saying that if you tried to shop around for insurance companies, "You would never know what's there. You might deal with one agent, one broker. ..." Stewart asked, "So this is the first mall?" Sebelius answered, "You bet." What horse manure.
Behold one of many existing online malls:
A search for a plan for an individual policy for a 22 year-old non-smoker in Ohio returned 70 plans from five different companies with costs ranging from $40 — less than a cable or cellphone bill, if you will — to $222 per month. You can also find out if your doctor is in the plan involved, and complete an application. I wasn't able to confirm whether you can complete a purchase, but that's as far as all but a very few have gotten in the Obamacare exchanges so far.
Additionally, the Obamacare exchanges have three or four inflexible products (gold, silver, bronze, and platinums). That's hardly a mall. It's more like a Cuban state-run grocery store.
Of course, many other companies also provide online quotes from more than one carrier.
I should note that individuals can, until the end of this year, purchase individual policies which would keep them outside of the Obamacare regime until late 2014. Such policies would remain in effect for a full year (assuming premiums are paid). Then, barring congressional intervention, they'll disappear permanently.
If Madame Secretary wants to quibble about problems with these plans like exclusions for pre-existing conditions, that's fine. But to claim that the tighly controlled Obamacare exchanges represent the "first mall" for health insurance coverage is an insult to the intelligence of most — with the obvious exception, as seen in the linked video, of Jon Stewart.
Oh, and one more thing — real malls don't force you to cough up tons of personal information before letting you in the door to begin shopping, as Obamacare does.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.