By Dick Morris - 10/22/13 11:55 PM EDT
The real problem with ObamaCare is not that its launch has been plagued by glitches, computer crashes and blocked screens. These superficial manifestations of its incompetent administration are not the key problem the program faces.
The lethal threat to its future is that nobody wants it or needs it. The glitches have permitted the administration to hide the dismally low enrollment figures behind assurances that people wanted to sign up but couldn’t.
Total population: 17 million
Estimated uninsured 3.5 million
Visited site 1 million
Sought to enroll “several thousands”
Enrolled as of yet 0
So only about two- or three-tenths of 1 percent of the uninsured have sought to enroll in ObamaCare. Only about 3 percent of those who have registered have sought to enroll.
And none have succeeded.
Nationally, that would work out to only about 50,000 enrollment applications — a dismal performance for the first three weeks of the program’s availability.
The high rate of site visits and registration measured against the low number of enrollment applications suggest the basic truth: that as people see and learn more about ObamaCare’s policies and prices, they do not want to buy it. And they are staying away in droves.
While there are glitches with which to contend and the system is far from smooth-functioning, the total lack of interest these enrollment figures illustrate poses a lethal political threat to President Obama’s political viability
We debated ObamaCare for years. We all explored its cost, the justification for its mandatory provisions. We examined its impact on the quality of care. We discussed its constitutionality. We all probed each aspect of this debate. But to my knowledge nobody — nobody — has said that people wouldn’t want it or need it. That they would give a war and nobody would come. This possibility never occurred to me.
Yet it is plainly the fact.
Obama is trying to hide the fact of low interest and low enrollment behind the computer glitches. He avows that he is furious and imports techies to fix it and puts Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusThe chaotic fight for ObamaCare California exchange CEO: Insurers ‘throwing ObamaCare under the bus’ Sebelius: 'Repugnant' for states to reject Medicaid expansion MORE out to testify before Congress on the glitches. If the first half of October was about the shutdown, the second half is about the glitches.
Obama wants us to focus on the glitches so that we don’t look behind the curtain at the more serious problem — that he monopolized America’s attention, neglected the economy, polarized us politically and staked his whole administration and spent billions of dollars to fix something that wasn’t broken.
If the low enrollment figures persist, the very basis of the case for ObamaCare will have eroded around its foundations. Those suffering without insurance will be exposed as neither wanting nor being able to afford it.
To the average 27-year-old, facing monthly premiums in the $300-$400 range, the question is: Do you buy health insurance on an Obama-Care exchange, or do you buy a car? Which one?
I believe that the entire Obama administration will be discredited in history if the demand for this program persists at this low level. It is always hard to repeal an entitlement program once it is launched. But if only 1 million people apply for it, repeal is not that difficult.
This program will go down in history as the greatest failure in recent domestic policy legislation — not because of its cost or impact on care, but because of low enrollment and interest.
Morris, who served as adviser to former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and former President Clinton, is the author of 16 books, including his latest, Screwed and Here Come the Black Helicopters. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to dickmorris.com.