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On the Third Hand: Propaganda

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The exchange enrollment system certainly has some problems, and I’m sure that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has some problems that I’ve written reasonably well about, along with problems I’ve never even thought about.

PPACA has also probably done some good for some people, and helped them get decent, affordable health coverage they would have had a hard time getting a year or two ago.

But I just think it’s important for anyone — especially benefits professionals — who is trying to look at all of this from a reasonably objective perspective to realize that we’re just plain swimming in PPACA propaganda, pro and con.

On the one hand, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are using such rigid, carefully scripted, absurd talking points that the press people sound as if they’re trying to telepathically apologize without apologizing in an open enough way that they get into trouble for apologizing.

Reporters, for example, ask HHS and CMS officials over and over again, “Could you give us some kind of application numbers for yesterday, or last week?” The answer is always, “We’ll give you numbers for this month in the middle of next month.”

But, on the other hand, the HHS and CMS are, I guess, reacting to the kind of “grassroot outreach” company that seems (from looking at my e-mail) to have the accounts for some company that loves guns, some company that hates PPACA, and some company that thinks that Vitamin D is the cure for all that ails us.

On the third hand: The talking points and e-mails I’m talking about are the open, relatively primitive propaganda. I’m sure I’m seeing a lot of more subtle propaganda, from all points on the spectrum, that I don’t even believe is propaganda.

I think the moral, especially if you’re selling health insurance, is to trust what you see with your own eyes and hear with your own ears, and to remember that news cycles generally have a lot of ups and downs. 

The PPACA exchanges soared, then crashed, and now may creep up again — only to start the falling and rising all over again.

Whatever happens, people need health care and someone has to figure out how (or if) they’re going to pay for it — and you’re going to have to help customers distinguish the demons from the dust bunnies.

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