With all the media rhetoric and political opposition that has literally consumed Americans concerning the Affordable Care Act, it's time to step back and take a deep breath. And once you've exhaled, let's all look at this debacle using some good old common sense.
First, I think we'll all agree that Obama is a big picture guy regardless of whether you like the pictures he's painting. I know a lot of CEOs as well as folks in general who have made a lot of money due to their abilities in seeing a bigger picture. But these folks were all in the private sector and weren't relying on government to execute on details. And because our government attempted to execute on a private sector level, we all stand witness to one of the biggest train wrecks in U.S. history.
Details. It's where the devil lives in all projects and anyone will tell you that big ideas always fall short due to the details. And one of the details that no one seems to be talking about is the market itself so I will ask you good folks to put on your marketing hats for a moment and hear me out.
The Affordable Care Act was created for people that can't afford health care. That's straight forward and from a business perspective, that's the target market. These are people who struggle to make ends meet. They live paycheck to paycheck and may or may not have enough money to pay their bills each month. This population represents 15 to 20% of America and is growing daily due to the great divide between wealth and poverty as the middle class continues to shrink.
In theory, this sounds great. We create a health care plan for the uninsured where payments are evened out in hopes of balancing prices for both healthy and unhealthy people. And without any marketing research on how this population lives or pays their bills, a web site was built with the hope that 7 million people will sign up for the plan and make it sustainable.
So let's take a look at this population and try to define them. How does this market behave that we know damn good and well wasn't ever really evaluated with any kind of research other than the fact that they don't have health care? Surely we can all agree that little if any research was executed in light of such a disastrous roll out. What I mean is they spent a lot of time baking the cake but bought really crappy paper plates and never found out if the market had a fork to eat it with.
I'll switch hats now for some perspective. Not to go into a great amount of detail as most of you already know I played blues music in the ghettos of south Dallas for years. I've traveled with band members, slept in their houses, rehearsed in their garages and ate at their tables. These are modest and humble people that struggle on a day to day basis. Focused on their grocery bill and the rent, budgets are extremely tight. They may have a day job while the music helps subsidize additional living expenses or the wife may work full time. Visits to the doctor are only on an as needed basis. And this as needed basis had to be pretty serious as I was called on numerous times as a taxi to Parkland due to the absence of a car.
As we evaluate this market, our government has created a system that requires the following.
1. You must apply using a web site. This means you must have a computer. Ok…let's say that all of these folks I know have a computer. Not all of them do but we'll say they do so we can move on to the next step.
2. You must have a credit card to pay the average $328 bill each month. They have a computer, in our imagination, so let's say they have a credit card as well. Not one of those debit cards you purchase at the grocery store but a real personal credit card.
3. This amount must be paid every month without fail for the program to work. That means each month that the credit card must work. Not declined and not maxed out.
It would be a stretch to think that I have any idea what it's like to live month to month even though I saw it first hand. But the elephant in the room is our own government has this market all figured out. It should be obvious that everyone owns a computer, we all have credit cards and without a doubt, won't have any trouble making payments each month. Keep in mind that the most a lot of these folks can afford for rent is around $300 per month. A family of four may live in a one bed room apartment. They have no car and ride the bus. If they do have a car, it's used and they only put five or ten dollars of gas in it at a time. They have no bank account and live on cash. They eat fast food because it's all they can afford.
But hey…paying $328 a month on your laptop with your own personal credit card is going to be a piece of cake.
This entire effort has about as much of a chance, if I can quote Merl Haggard, as a snowball headed for hell. But before we all stomp our feet and complain about our government, we all need to take a good hard look at ourselves. If you remember anything I've ever written on these rambling blogs, remember this my friends. Our job is to take care of the folks that need to be taken care of and if we don't do it, the government will step in and do it for us. I don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican, you will never convince me that the government has some duty in tending to the poor. That's your job. That's my job. That's our job.
Take heed this Christmas my brothers and sisters and remember your job. A job that was given to all who have much. I believe it was our good friend Luke who said, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."