Just 257 people in the entire State of Hawaii have so far signed up for insurance using Hawaii Health Connector, according to this Nov. 15 Pacific Business News story. That’s right–after all the political fighting and election campaigning and Supreme Court arguing, that’s what we get.
The thing’s been up and running since Oct. 15 (it was supposed to go live on Oct. 1) and, so far, less than 300 people across Hawaii have succeeded in using it to find health insurance. These numbers track nationally, with only about 106,000 Americans across the country able to purchase new insurance through Healthcare.gov, the federal government’s web portal that provides most people access to President Barack Obama’s beloved Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“It didn’t have to be this way,” David Sirota said in this Oct. 31 Salon story. Left-leaning Sirota is proof that not all ACA opponents are Tea Party members.
“Back when Obamacare was being negotiated, Congress could have circumvented the private insurance industry by simply expanding Medicare to cover everybody,” he wrote. “Medicare isn’t perfect, of course, but it remains one of the most popular institutions in America because its single-payer model guarantees access to decent, cost-effective health care rather than just meager health insurance. It also does a good job of preventing profit-taking middlemen from getting between patients and their physicians.”
Medicare (and the Veterans Health Administration) are both examples of single-payer healthcare. Congress and Obama ditched any discussion of that (the famed “public option”) years ago during ACA negotiations. Perhaps someday the big insurance company subsidy program known as the ACA will finally work as promised, but for now, we can only dream of what might have been had Washington not killed the Public Option in the crib.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons