- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 10, 2014

I never wanted to be a pawn in President Obama’s absurd and irresponsible attempt to mandate, regulate and complicate the American health care system. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a choice.

I was a casualty of Mr. Obama’s Big Lie. You know the one: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” By the time my plan vanished, the only individual health insurance plans available had been captured by the tentacles of Obamacare.

Signing up for insurance under Obamacare was harder than making sense of Donald Trump’s hair. It took more than 20 attempts over four days just to get on the “Health Insurance Marketplace” website and shop for insurance. The plan I found most similar to my canceled plan cost nearly $1,000 more a year, and my deductible increased from about $2,000 to more than $5,000. So I was forced to pay almost twice as much for a whole lot less insurance.

It’s surprising there’s not a link to buy a solid-gold eight-track player on the Healthcare.gov site — everything else for sale in Mr. Obama’s marketplace is also ridiculously overpriced and pretty much useless.

Signing up for Obamacare was a tremendous hassle. But even that experience was a joy compared with what I went through to cancel my coverage.

On the same day that I was counted as one of the 7.1 million Americans that Mr. Obama energetically exploited during his Obamacare victory lap, I was able to enroll in a group insurance plan through my employer. I was free from the shackles of my terrible Obamacare plan — or so I thought.

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When I tried to terminate my plan, my insurance company told me that plans purchased through the marketplace could only be canceled through the marketplace. That started a brutal three-day fiasco.

After trying multiple times to sign on to Healthcare.gov to terminate my plan, only to find the site was down or I wasn’t allowed to log in, I gave up on the website and opted for the personal approach, the telephone. I was put on hold for 15 minutes and forced to listen to an insufferable synthesizer-Peruvian pan flute duet that the United Nations would likely consider an act of torture by the United States against its own citizens.

When someone finally got around to picking up the phone, I was told that only a “specialist” could cancel a plan. So I was transferred, where I waited and waited. A prerecorded message came on about every 10 minutes recommending that I call back after the open-enrollment period ended on March 31 should I need to make changes to my account.

It was April 3.

After more than two hours on hold, the call was cut off owing to “technical difficulties.” Two hours wasted by the president’s dumb idea.

The next day, after more failed attempts to log on to the online marketplace, I gave the phone another try. Twenty minutes later, someone picked up. I asked if she could help me cancel my plan. “No.” I asked if there was a direct line or another number to reach someone who could help me cancel my plan. “No.” I asked if she knew when the website would be working to allow me to login and cancel my plan online. “No.”

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“Listen,” she said, “All I can do is help you sign up. That’s all anyone here can do. I can’t help you cancel, and I can’t help you make changes to your account. You’ll have to talk to a specialist for that.” When I told her that I waited more than two hours for a specialist the day before, she promised that someone would be with me quickly.

That, it turned out, was just another in the long line of Obamacare lies.

I waited on hold to speak with a specialist for two more hours, suffering through the synthesizer-pan flute duet until the line was again disconnected.

After nearly five hours on the phone waiting to speak with someone, I’m convinced that an Obamacare specialist is like Bigfoot or Norm’s wife on “Cheers.” I’ve heard the tale, but there’s no proof they actually exist.

Ultimately, on my umpteenth try, three days into the process, I was finally able to get into the Healthcare.gov site, wade through several pages and cancel my plan — although, unlike with most insurance plans, I couldn’t get a prorated refund on the days I had paid for but wouldn’t need. One last $100 slap in the face.

It was difficult to sign up for Obamacare, but nowhere near as hard as it was to leave the program. That raises a serious question: Was Obamacare designed to inflate its numbers by holding enrollees hostage in the program once they signed up? From my experience, that certainly seems to be the case.

Drew Johnson is an editorial writer for The Washington Times.

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