Despite the fact that I’ve made no secret about my general distaste for Obamacare, I’m one of the ones it was created to help. Nearly three years ago, I left a solid, good paying job to strike out on my own in the legal business, and in so doing, left behind medical and dental benefits along with a steady paycheck.
The last two-and-a-half years have been interesting. We managed to avoid the doctor and emergency room during that time, despite having 5 kids under age 10. Our teeth are a little worse for wear (though that’s in the process of being corrected), but other than that, we’re doing OK. It’s not that I want to be uninsured, it’s just that I’ve been forced to prioritize a few other essential things, like food and shelter, over catastrophic health insurance.
But now Obamacare is here to help. So insistent is it about helping me that it will penalize me for failing to purchase a qualifying health insurance plan in 2014. So, when the Obamacare health insurance exchanges rolled out on October 1, I dutifully went over to healthcare.gov to see just what it was had been done for me.
That was 14 days ago.
And today, I, like many, many others, am still trying to find out just exactly what it is that Obamacare hath wrought, because healthcare.gov doesn’t want to show it to me.
This is my healthcare.gov story.
Day 1: October 1, 2013.
I logged on to the site, and was greeted by a very pretty looking page. I selected the link to apply for health insurance, and was asked to select my home state, which I did. I was then informed that Utahns seeking individual/family health insurance had to use the federal exchange set up on healthcare.gov and telling me that I should create an account.
That’s where the trouble started.
I then tried to click on the link for online support chat, which opened, took my name, and promptly died.
So, I gave up for a few hours.
When I came back later in the day, I wasn’t even given the opportunity to try and create an account, the link simply directed you to a dead end page that said the website was having trouble due to excessive demand.
I called it a day.
Day 2: October 2, 2013.
The next morning, I again tried to set up an account. Again, I was directed to the dead end page, this time, however, it informed that I would be re-directed to the account creation page after a short wait. 5 minutes later I had not been redirected, so I went about my other business. Forty-five minutes later I returned, and, sure enough, I had been redirected. So, I tried to create an account and ran into the same trouble with the security questions. After reloading the page once, I abandoned my attempts.
Days 3 through 7: October 2 – 9, 2013.
These days followed the same ritual as Day 2.
Day 8: October 10, 2013.
On day 8 I finally was able to set up an account. The registration process went smoothly and I confirmed my account and began the process of registering for health insurance. I started the application and everything seemed to be going well, although the application was slow in responding. I was able to navigate through all the questions, which took me, in total 45 minutes to an hour. I then submitted my application, waited, waited, and waited some more, and then finally received an email stating that the verification system was not functioning. My application was labeled “In Progress.” So, I left and went on to other things, figuring that verification would eventually happen.
Day 9: October 11, 2013.
I logged back into my account, and my application was now labeled “Incomplete.” This puzzled me, since I had completed the application the day before and it had simply stalled on verification. ”Well,” I thought to myself, “perhaps I just need to submit the application again.” I clicked on my application link, and it started me halfway through my application, requiring that I re-answer all the questions I had answered the day before. There was no way to skip questions or review the answers that I had already submitted. So, I completed half of the application again. When I tried to submit the application, it just stalled. Frustrated, I left for the day.
Day 10 and 11: October 12 – 13, 2013.
I came back, yet again, to healthcare.gov — such a friendly place — and nearly duplicated my experiences from the day 9, except on these days time, when I clicked on my incomplete application, it made me start at the very beginning and complete the entire application over again. I re-completed and attempted to re-submit the application once each day. Still no progress.
Day 13: October 14, 2013.
I came back for my daily ritual of completing and submitting my application — it was starting to feel very much like Groundhog Day. But this time, after entering the names of all my family members for whom I would seeking coverage, healthcare.gov refused to allow me to designate my wife as my wife. Instead, it told me that I was married to “Someone Else” and refused to let me proceed in the application without designating the name of my spouse. After being unable to figure anything else out, I wrote my wife’s name in again. The same error occurred for my wife — it insisted that her husband was “Someone Else” — so I wrote my name in again. The application then detected an error because I now had two duplicate persons for whom I was seeking coverage and refused to let me move forward.
After struggling with this for 10 minutes or so, I clicked on the live chat support link. This time I was connected with a representative, who cheerily asked my how she could help. When I started to describe my problem, she simply wrote, “Please call telephone support. Have a nice day!”
I left the site in disgust. When I logged out, it gave me a notice in Spanish, despite asking repeatedly over the last week to designate my preferred language — English.
Day 14: October 15, 2013.
I logged into my account, and, sure enough, my application was still incomplete. This time I didn’t even get to the part where it told me I wasn’t married to my wife. Instead, it informed me, for the first time, that it could not verify information about my “Immigration Document.” Having been born in the great midwestern state of Iowa, I was unaware that I even had an “Immigration Document,” but c’est la vie. I quit the application at that point and started writing this post.
Tons of people have weighed in on the problems with healthcare.gov already, so I won’t say much. I’m sure at some point this will all be worked out, and the website will function at least on a minimum level. But the persistent nature of the severe issues continues to surprise me. I’ll be sure to post my results when I actually get through and am able to sign up for coverage. In the meantime, c’est la guerre!
UPDATE: This post is getting many more views that I’m used to — thanks! Also, if you’re so inclined, go ahead and post your own Obamacare signup story in the comments below