Soon we'll get the official number of people that have signed up for health insurance on the new federal government-run exchange. The news is going to be ugly. It will put to rest the notion the website was overrun by eager Americans finally able to buy health insurance. It will put to rest the notion of great options and great values.
It will underscore a bungling of monumental proportions that didn't have to be the disaster that it's become. The law itself was flawed from the beginning and sold to the American public through a series of hype and lies from campaign stops to television ads.
The law was called a "signature success," ordained by an overeager media looking to justify their fawning.
The fact is that the law was always a fog of confusion. It was sold as a way of getting health care insurance to 30 million people that didn't have it, but the hype for many was it would be free healthcare and babies would have access to doctors. It was sold as a money-saver but now just as the right thing to do. It was sold as an elixir dismissing laws of basic math and common sense. It was just sold and sold and sold ... pitched and celebrated by all that dream of a fair nation where collectivism rules. Of course the website debacle has actually made the case for why the private sector is better than government in making our lives better.
The Best a Man Can Get
There are few products I like more than my Mach 3 razor because it's great. It wasn't that long ago that Gillette was in trouble as it went down the disposable sinkhole that declined to a 50% share of the razor market. The company took ten years and millions of dollars to come up with the Sensor, which revolutionized the industry but wasn't good enough. Management took its renewed glory and behind the scenes spent seven years and $1.0 billion dollars ($300 million on marketing) to come up with the Mach 3.
When it made its debut management rightly predicted it "will blow the doors off other technologies." That was 1998 and the company was on such a roll its market capitalization surged to over $40 billion from just $3 billion a decade earlier. By 2005 the company relented to the third takeover attempt and accepted $58 billion from Proctor and Gamble.
Fast forward to the healthcare website that shut out all but four bidders, then took the bid from a Canadian company to build America's healthcare exchange. The same amount of money spent to perfect the disposable razor seems to have been flushed down a rat hole in a rush to debut a not-ready-for-primetime program. Interestingly, President Obama was spot on when he said the law is more than just a (botched) website. It's an unmitigated disaster that can only lead to higher costs, less quality healthcare, fewer available doctors, higher taxes, and higher deficits as it morphs into a bona-fide entitlement.
In the end, those millions of Americans that didn't have healthcare insurance will end up on Medicare or Medicaid, while people doing okay but clearly not Warren Buffett will pay higher taxes to subsidize people otherwise let down by an economy that doesn't provide the right backdrop or incentive for Americans to be the best they can get.