Sunday, February 17, 2013

ObamaCare: "How Sweet It Is!"


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Images similar to the above have been used to 'sell' the benefits of the governmental takeover of health care in America (referred to as the "Affordable Care Act", or in the common vernacular, "Obama Care").  A smiling child, a hopeful face, a pink and white scarf indicating an unnamed ruinous disease work together to elicit a desired emotional response from me, you, and other folks who view the image. 

Is this imagery by chance?  No.  Marketing is not an 'accident'.  Market research, focus groups, and even taste-tests determine the product marketing you will see publicly in ads, in print, online, on television, and ultimately in your grocery store.  If you think back to the mid-1980's you may remember the "New Coke" marketing disaster.  This adventure-in-marketing WAS a nightmare for the Coca-Cola Company.  It went on to become a case study into what NOT to do regarding new product introduction - so if nothing else, it was a 'learning thing' for generations of marketers to come.    

So am I saying that New Coke and (New) Health Care Act experiences are related?  The answer to this question is a combination of 'Yes', 'No', and, gulp, 'Maybe'.  I'm thinking that all three apply currently, but we're not far enough into our personal experience with the Health Care 'Big Gulp' to know which answer will continue to be 'most' correct in the future.   

Since passage of the Affordable Health Care Act, you haven't been forced to drink the entire new product formulation as yet.  Sure, you've seen the marketing (both pro and con) surrounding the law, heard how it was passed (dark rooms, cigarettes, money exchanging hands) and you've already begun paying some of "New Health Care" costs (higher company-provided health insurance rates) to boot.  You may have formed an option as to what Affordable Health Care will taste like when it is fully distilled, bottled, shipped and poured into your glass.  But if you haven't...

Get ready, as the bottle is open and it is coming your way.  Some Americans have already been involved in their very own 'Taste-Test'.  (Well, you may be if you are the parent of a smiling, hopeful, pink and white head-scarfed girl who is already sick and YOU haven't filed the required paperwork PRIOR to March 2nd, 2013.  You'd better make sure that your 'I's are dotted and your 'T's are crossed.)     

Here's a taste for you...  Get ready to sample the new blend of Health Care preparing to sweep the Nation. 

Begin "New Health Care Act" taste test - now.


Photo:  Mother Jones
Card-Carrying Lackeys:  Useful


The WashingtonPost.com, February 15, 2013:  Funds run low for health insurance in state ‘high-risk pools’

Tens of thousands of Americans who cannot get health insurance because of preexisting medical problems will be blocked from a program designed to help them because funding is running low.

Obama administration officials said Friday that the state-based “high-risk pools” set up under the 2010 health-care law will be closed to new applicants as soon as Saturday and no later than March 2, depending on the state.

But they stressed that coverage for about 100,000 people who are now enrolled in the high-risk pools will not be affected. 

[MoosNote:  I'm sorry, but didn't someone say something earlier about 17 MILLION Americans needing access to these high-risk pools?  Oh, that's right, this is the program which is Market-Testing the new program is being done - this is a TEST program to see how effectively the government can handle the needs of the sick in advance of the ACTUAL program.  This is a TEST MARKETING trial...  NEW Coke, anyone?]

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The program, which was launched in summer 2010, was always intended as a temporary bridge for the uninsured. But it was supposed to last until 2014. At that point, the health-care law will bar insurers from rejecting or otherwise discriminating against people who are already sick, enabling such people to buy plans through the private market.

From the start, analysts questioned whether the $5 billion that Congress appropriated for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan — as the program is called — was sufficient.

Initial fears that as many as 375,000 sick people would swamp the pools and bankrupt them by 2012 did not pan out. This is largely because, even though the pools must charge premiums comparable to those for healthy people, the plans sold through them are often expensive.

But it was also because the pools are open only to people who have gone without insurance for at least six months. The result is that, while only about 135,000 people have gotten coverage at some point, they are proving far more costly to insure than predicted.

...

“What we’ve learned through the course of this program is that this is really not a sensible way for the health-care system to be run,” Cohen said.

Of the original $5 billion, about $2.36 billion remains available for the last three quarters of 2013 — enough only to continue coverage for those already in the pools, according to administration estimates.

The law gave states the option of either administering their pools directly or allowing federal authorities to operate them. In 27 states that have chosen direct management, applications for new enrollment can be accepted only through March 2. In 23 states and the District, where the pools are operated by the federal government, only applications received through Friday will be considered.


Two words:  Death Panel

I'm not sure why those particular words sprung to mind, but for some reason - they did.  And when the spirit moves you...  Move with it - lest you be left behind.

Key take-aways from the Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Test Marketing of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan:

  • Participation of 'Test Market Participants' is being shut down early due to a lack of adequate funding from the Feds - a government agency running out of money?  Who saw THIS coming?
  • Participants of the New Health Care Program have found that coverage in this test is "often expensive" - making it hard for them to afford it (please remember the name of the legislation we're discussing - the "Affordable" Health Care Law)
  • Gary Cohen, director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Consumer Information and Insurance says, “What we’ve learned through the course of this program is that this is really not a sensible way for the health-care system to be run.”  Please keep in mind that HE is the guy running it.  Mr. Cohen puts the 'SUE' in "Career Suicide".
  • Cohen also said, “My responsibility is to work with the appropriation we have.”  So while he watches the money run out, he's not requesting any more from his Superiors....  [Death panels, anyone?  You know, it just sounds, 'right', doesn't it?]
  • Keep in mind that this was a 'Test' of fewer than 135,000 Americans.  What happens when the other uninsured folks show up at the door?  Doing the Math fast and loose in my head, this means that there will be 169,865,000 showing up on January 1st, 2014 looking for coverage in a program for which the director says, and yes, I am paraphrasing, from Bullet 3 above, "Don't work too good for you."?


Image:  Wikipedia


Okay, so you're wondering, "Dude, how did you get from New Coke to New Health Care?"  Well, there's more, you can keep reading if you like, or get out and enjoy your day.  Your call, as I'll wrap this up in a moment.

Excerpts from "New Coke Case Study":



Battered by competition from the sweeter Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola decided in 1985 to replace its old formula with a sweeter variation, dubbed the “New Coke”.  Coca-Cola spent $4 million on market research.
 

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[Your government spent $5 BILLION in their pre-existing condition 'test' - Federal Government WINs in spending test!  But also FAILS in execution of program.]
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Blind taste tests showed that Coke drinkers preferred the new, sweet formula, but the launch of New Coke provoked a national uproar. Market researchers had measured the taste but had failed to measure the emotional attachment consumers had to Coca-Cola. 

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The promised 'sweetness' of the New Coke product was not enough to win over consumers who had bought into the original 'brand' of Coca-Cola.  In blind 'single' taste tests, cola drinkers preferred the taste of...  Pepsi Cola.

What Coke didn't understand was that in tests involving larger quantities of both colas, consumers preferred Coke over Pepsi when consumed in 'mass quantities'.  A little Pepsi was 'okay' but in larger quantities they found the formulation too sweet.

Coke was the standard by which all colas were historically compared to, it was consistently good, and had a history that most Americans knew.  Shoot, Coke even copyrighted the Red and Green of Santa's 'suit'.  When you can pick out the colors for Santa Claus in advertising for years to come - yup, you've got a good thing going.  Then, of course, in an attempt to regain lost 'Market Share', executives at Coke messed with its recipe, and the rest, as they say, "Is history". 

To tie in with today's conversation, consumers may be emotionally attached to the concept of 'Free' (sweeter) health care since President Obama focused on Health Care prior to and immediately following his election.  Consumers (i.e.:  you, me and everyone we know) haven't experienced full implementation of this "New Health Care" as yet.  Thus far they've only gotten thimble-sized tastes of Obama Care and haven't had to 'drink from the fire hose' with 2014's full deployment of  the 'We have to see what's in the law now that we've passed the law' version of the legislation.  

Nationalized "New Health Care" has already happened in Canada, Great Britain, and Romney's home State of Massachusetts.  Is health care still as 'sweet' as it used to be in those 'former' Test Markets?  Well, I could ramble on, but since I don't live in any of these places, you might want to read articles written by people who actually LIVE in Britain, Canada, or Massachusetts.  My gut tells me that people will find this "New Health Care" as cloyingly sweet as New Coke drinkers did back in the mid-1980's.  A taste is 'okay' but unless you're used to mainlining sugar or high fructose corn syrup, 12 or more ounces of New Coke is like drinking pure syrup (with carbonation!). 

So, what to do?

If history were to repeat itself...  (again, quoting from the article linked above)...



The change to the world's best selling soft drink was heard by 81 percent of the United States population within twenty-four hours of the announcement. Within a week of the change, one thousand calls a day were flooding the company's eight hundred number.




Most of the callers were shocked and/or outraged, many said that they were considering switching to Pepsi. Within six weeks, the eight hundred number was being jammed by six thousand calls a day. The company also fielded over forty thousand letters, which were all answered and each person got a coupon for the new Coke.
 



The difference here of course is that the Coca-Cola Company is a business, and not a Federal monopoly.  Management at Coke knew they fouled up and responded by fixing the problem while making their firm stronger and acknowledging that they fouled up. 

Shortly after the debacle of New Coke, "Coke Classic" was introduced, the public was happy, Coke market share improved and then a several dozen years later Michael Bloomberg told everyone that they could only drink 16 ounces of Coke at a time in 'his city'.  

Don't get bummed, it's just the way government IS.  It's what they dooooooooo!  They have to protect us from ourselves.  We are not smart enough to know what's good for us.

And this is why we need to send all the 'smarter than US' folks back home from Washington and let them take care of their own families.  This would be an extremely 'affordable' move for the Nation.  I was hoping that there were enough of us to begin this in 2012, but, three Million Republicans who voted for Freaking John McCain decided to sit out the 2012 election.  If not for you guys, we would have been saying "President-Elect Romney" in the days following the election.  Thanks for that, you no-good Pepsi drinkers.   

As for myself, I prefer me and my wife to make the important decisions for our family.  Perhaps one day we can rediscover the passion and outrage surrounding the switch of Coke to 'New Coke' and apply it to our health care options for the future, maybe we can do what the Supreme Court would not?

Simply gut the Affordable Health Care act.  Why? Because based upon what I've read, seen, and heard, the word 'Affordable' does not apply.  And, the guys running this 'taste-test' says that his way is 'no way' to run a program.

Just a thought.


Image:  Politifake.org



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