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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oregon Obama-Care health insurance rates are designed-by-committee Dilbert cartoon

PHOTO: See Google Search for dilbert design by committee for an endless supply of images on the theme that describes the way Obama-Care was designed.

Something any designer learns early on, whether they are an artist, writer, architect or engineer, is that good design always requires a lead designer with a vision and the knowledge needed to coordinate and manage any help required to implement the design. As a result, skilled designers never want to be part of any "design committee" because they know it will lead to compromises that don't make sense and they will be forced to substitute the best design features for the lowest common denominator that might not satisfy anybody. (Of course bad designers often use this idea as an excuse to ignore all client or user input, which is a topic for a different post.) It is clear that Obama-care has been designed by a committee of Congress and private companies. Below is the letter to the editor I wrote describing the local situation now that I seen the proposed rates and process:

On May 9 the Obamacare health insurance premium costs, proposed for Benton County residents in 2014, became available for review from the State of Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services Insurance Division's home page and their Web page that say rate decisions will be made by July for individuals, who are now required by law to buy private health insurance that will be available on the Web site.

For the first time, rates between plans can be compared because the benefit levels (e.g. Bronze, Gold, Silver, etc.) are standardized.

For example, proposed "Bronze Plans" in Benton County will cost non-insured early retirees approximately 400 to 800 dollars per month in premiums to cover 60 percent of their expected total medical costs of more than $600 dollars per month.

Fiscally responsible early retirees are now barred by law from buying high deductible catastrophic health insurance for less than $100 per month, which had insured them against losing their home and IRA savings.

I am trying to stay open-minded, but the literally designed-by-committee federal Affordable Care Act only makes sense as a Dilbert cartoon.

(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Letter: Obamacare's local impact 'only makes sense as a Dilbert cartoon'," Gazette-Times, posted May 22, 2013)

I first found out that Oregon had posted the proposed Obama-Care health insurance rates thanks to a post by John Aravosis, "Oregon Insurers vying to lower premiums because of Obamacare," posted May 10, 2013. Although he posted only a link to the rate sheet for Portland, I was able to quickly find the information for Benton County, which was included in the Eugene region chart. (See Eugene Area Proposed Rate Examples Benton, Lane, and Linn counties posted May 9, 2013 (PDF) and Portland sample Obama Care Health Insurance rates (PDF) that were linked to by a newspaper article by Nick Budnick, The Oregonian, "Two Oregon insurers rethink 2014 premiums as state posts first-ever rate comparison," posted May 09, 2013 )

Below I've listed some key links for Oregon Obama-Care health insurance plans:

The idea that wellness programs encouraged by Obama-Care will save money is questioned in the article by John Tozzi, "The Doctor Will See You Now," Business Week, May 20-26, 2013, p. 27-28.

Ironically, The state of Oregon is committed to providing Web Accessibility (according to this link on their pages), but their new Cover Oregon site is very hard to read for low vision people like me because it has colored text on a colored background, which violates the State's own design guideline for accessibility. On a loosely related note, I now understand how health care dollars are being spent on the helicopter noise flying over my house on its final approach and landing at the hospital (See article by , "REACH medical helicopter service extends capabilities," posted May 6, 2013).