A disheartening visit to Healthcare.gov

Earlier, John Aravosis shared his experience when he tried to get some information from the Obamacare Healthcare.gov “exchange” website (John’s post included some funny video of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show treatment of the Web site debacle). I thought I’d go ahead and share my experience with HealthCare.gov, following the rough chronology of events.

The reason why my experience is a tad different is that, unlike John, who was checking out Illinois policies (which are currently run by the federal exchange) for his sister, this isn’t just a matter of curiosity or reporting. I have to use the site if I want health insurance. (Well, maybe… more on that later in the post.)

Although my state, New Mexico, has said it will operate its own health insurance exchange — and in the past, before PPACA, has done so — for some unknown reason they decided to go with the Healthcare.gov portal this year.

My opinion: Bad idea. Terrible idea.

The temporary high-risk pool actually worked for many of us

Right now, and for the last two years, I’ve been enrolled in Obamacare’s “temporary high-risk pool.” Why? Because until the ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)’, no insurance company in the states where I’ve lived would write me a policy due to pre-existing conditions.

My ineligibility for insurance dates back to 2003 when a professional group to which I belonged lost its insurance underwriter, throwing me and everyone else out onto the individual insurance market.

There, I soon learned that two chronic but relatively mild conditions I have make me ineligible for private individual insurance at any price: Hay-fever allergies and migraine headaches.

Don’t believe me?

Here’s the letter from the last time I tried to apply, in February 2012. It’s almost word-for-word identical to the rejections I received over the years from Blue Cross of California, HealthNet, Pacificare, BC of NM, and a whole host of other insurance companies.

My 2012 health insurance rejection (redacted)

My 2012 health insurance rejection (redacted)

The upside of that letter was that, due to PPACA (aka ‘Obamacare’), for the first time I was able to take the rejection and use it to apply for insurance in the temporary high-risk pool. (And who would’ve thunk it: Migraine headaches and seasonal hay-fever allergies as ‘high risk’?!)

The PPACA high-risk pool application process couldn’t have been more simple. New Mexico has its own low-income / self-employed insurance program, but it’s hard to get into due to a lack of funding and months- or years-long waiting lists. Nevertheless, it was the same web-portal, and there I was able to browse all the plans available to me. Exact coverage definitions, benefits, deductibles and co-pays, premiums — it was all right there. Easy to compare plans, too.

I picked a plan with a moderate deductible and co-pay. Probably it would equal a ‘Silver’-level plan under the new exchanges. My business has gotten better since 2012, so I’m hoping for 2014 I can upgrade to Gold.

Anyway, in March 2012, I filled out a downloadable application for the high-risk pool insurance, sent it in along with a check, another form and the previous year’s 1040 tax form to prove eligibility for premium assistance, and crossed my fingers.

Less than two weeks later, for the first time in more than eight years, I had health insurance. Not great insurance, but a damned sight better than none.

In a way, I wish I could just leave it be until this mess is sorted out, but unfortunately the temporary pool is being phased out. So I have to get new insurance.

My Obamacare / Healthcare.gov experience has been pretty awful

Here’s a rough chronological account of my Healthcare.gov experiences over the last few weeks:

Tuesday, October 1: Tried to sign up for a login. Failed because the site kept crashing and/or was unavailable.

Wednesday, October 2: Tried again. Managed to get a login, but it didn’t work. Kept hanging on the security questions.

Thursday, October 3: Applied for another login, didn’t work. It claimed success, but wouldn’t actually log me in.

Friday, October 4: Neither of my two logins worked — both listed as invalid. So I applied for another. It finally worked and is the one that has functioned since. Unfortunately late that night, the site went down and stayed that way over the weekend. Before then though, it wanted me to go through an identity verification process and guess what? That failed.

I answered the questions. The system hangs. I know I gave the right answers, but for some reason the site couldn’t verify my identity. I suspect it was network timeouts. They try to send me to Experian (the credit rating company). After half an hour on the phone I hang up. I decide to wait a couple days and try again.

After this, it gets kind of fuzzy because I no longer remember which days I did what, so I’ll go by the week:

Week of October 7-11: Finally, that last login works consistently, although the site is up and down like a whack-a-mole. I just want to see what plans are available for me as a 50 year old non-smoking woman living in New Mexico. That information isn’t available.

Moreover, the site — as John indicated — essentially wants to force me to: (1) go through the ENTIRE application process just to browse plans; and (2) wants to run a full credit check on me before I’m allowed do so. It was literally easier applying for a mortgage last autumn than to go through this.

It turns out my failed attempts the previous week meant I’d exhausted my ID verification attempts. Now it wants documented proof. (The same thing happened to John when he was looking into plans for his sister.) So I scan my New Mexico driver’s license and attempt to upload it. The website refuses to take the file. And it crashes again.

Healthcare.gov wants me to guess next year’s income – good luck with that

In filling out an application, to determine eligibility for premium subsidies, they wanted me to estimate my 2014 income. I’m sorry, but small business owners and the self-employed are never going to be able to do that with any degree of accuracy. It’s just impossible.

I can probably ballpark within about 10-20% my 2013 gross receipts, but until I meet with my accountant and have him deal with my ridiculously complicated taxes, I won’t know what my taxable income actually was.

Yet Healthcare.gov actually wants me to guess how much I’m going to make next year when I have no idea how good or bad a year it’ll be in terms of landing clients and contracts? (And yes, it’s clear from the wording they’re not asking what I’ll file on April 15th 2014 for my 2013 earnings — they are literally asking me how much money I anticipate making next year.) Any number I pull out of my butt will be a lie.

Further muddying the waters? The repeal of part 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). My wife and I are, finally, legally married in the eyes of our Federal government. She’s on Medicare and collects Social Security. In past years, we’ve simply divided our business income between us in whatever way makes the most tax-sense. We’ve never filed a tax return as a married couple before.

We don’t even know yet if New Mexico will allow us to file jointly, or if we will be forced to file separately. So again, I have no idea what my official “income” will be this year on my taxes.

Week of October 14-18: Early in the week, I decide to try the driver’s license scan upload again. It works. But my status never changes. So a few days later, I try again. Finally, it said ‘Identity verification pending.’

Identity verification pending...and pending...and pending

Identity verification pending…and pending…and pending

As of October 23rd, it’ll be a week later, and still nada. No notification. I can’t even finish my application.

But at least I can finally browse plans! Or not.

So now, as John noted earlier, there appears a button on the front page of Healthcare.gov that supposedly lets me browse plans, despite the fact I still cannot apply for anything.  (Though, if my experience is anything like John’s, they didn’t really let him ‘browse’ any plans – he was permitted to see the name of several plans, and how much they cost, but not any information as to what the plans actually cover. So that’s not really browsing. It’s teasing.)

Hmm… okay, let’s press that and see what it does. How about that — after several unnecessary screens, it takes me back to where I started on October 1 — the BeWellNM.com New Mexico health insurance exchange portal. It has a big banner at the top that reads as follows:

Thank you for visiting the NMHIX.

Due to heavy volume on the federal website (healthcare.gov), those shopping for individual and family insurance plans may experience difficulty signing up. Experts are working to resolve this problem as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience.

In the meantime, assistance is still available. Contact our call center toll free at 1-855-99-NMHIX or find a live Health Care Guide, agent or broker near you.

If you’d like to review plan summaries and premiums that are available to individuals on the exchange, go to http://nmhealthratereview.com/about.aspx for PDF downloads.

Remember, you have until early December of 2013 to sign up for insurance coverage that will begin January 1, 2014.

And that NM Health Rate Review link? It hauls me over to a completely different New Mexico agency, the Office of Superintendent of Insurance. And a table with five carriers and the names of various plans, but no details.

The utterly unhelpful page that supposedly lists health insurance policies in New Mexico

The utterly unhelpful page that supposedly lists health insurance policies in New Mexico

There are links to details, but no easy way to compare them. Every plan link is a separate PDF. The downloadable premium rates PDF file is all but unreadable and contains no information about the Platinum or Platinum-plus plans. Plus, of course, there is no information anywhere about the tax credits and/or premium subsidies.

But wait, there’s help right?

That first page back at BeWellNM.com, probably soon to be rebranded as NMHIX judging from the banner, said there were also links to Health Care Guides as well as Agents and Brokers.

I click on the first link to see who these ‘Guides’ are and it pulls up a page with a super-teeny embedded Google map and lots of marked locations on it in the Albuquerque area. Some of them are health clinics, which kind of makes sense. I have to assume I’d just call them and make an appointment or something, but it’s not clear. Some of them are clinics I’d have no business going to, such as one for pregnancy and another for drug addiction treatment.

Even weirder though: Some of the locations on the map are middle and high schools. Huh? “Hello Grant Middle School, I’d like someone to help me sign up for health insurance.” Oh, the balloon pop-ups seem to indicate there will be times — usually on Friday afternoons — when there will be someone onsite to help out. Gee, that’s gonna be useful for people who have jobs… Not.

Now dive with me down the rabbit hole known as the NMHIX “Agents and Brokers” page. It’s a list of people’s names, addresses, and email address links. No indication at all whether these are licensed insurance brokers or which company they might be affiliated with. Lots of them appear to be people’s personal email addresses, like one woman who wants us all to know she has five cats and three dogs. Another is a Hotmail address prefixed by Plan4uMoney. Um. no.

There are GMail, MSN, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, Qwest, and Comcast domain email addresses. I’d say easily half or more of the people on the list of dozens have email addresses that are obviously not associated with any insurance business.

What am I supposed to do? Pick one at random and hope I get lucky? No friggin’ way. Not with a decision this important.

To be fair, I have this suspicion that the Feds decided to try to dump their problem back onto New Mexico’s unprepared exchange. In a way, I might be better off than those people who have nothing but Healthcare.gov available…but it’s sad to even think that might be the case.

Well, I give up for now

Anyway, that’s where I’m at. As far as I’m concerned, trying right now to apply for insurance through Healthcare.gov is a waste of time and effort. I have a feeling that for some trying to use improperly prepared state-level exchanges like mine here in New Mexico, it’s also a waste.

Moreover, for something as important as picking the right plan, I really don’t think it’s a good idea for me to try to do so given the confusing and often conflicting information. Worse, I’ve seen news reports in the last couple of days to indicate that the policy information people are seeing on Healthcare.gov isn’t even correct.

So I’m going to let it all wait a few more weeks. If it’s still a mess — and I don’t have much faith it’ll be otherwise — I’m probably going to do what’s suggested and find one of those ‘Health Care Guides’ or simply go to a professional agent or broker. Definitely not one who uses a Yahoo or Hotmail email address though.

Published professional writer and poet, Becca had a three decade career in technical writing and consulting before selling off most of her possessions in 2006 to go live at an ashram in India for 3 years. She loves literature (especially science fiction), technology and science, progressive politics, cool electronic gadgets, and perfecting Hatch green chile recipes. Fortunately for this last, Becca and her wife currently live in New Mexico. @BeccaMorn

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59 Responses to “A disheartening visit to Healthcare.gov”

  1. peter says:

    I was stuck in the identity verification cul de sac from October 5 and like many below I had answered the questions correctly and uploaded and mailed our identity info. After numerous calls, basically was told to shut up and wait. Finally on Thanksgiving, my wife applied and got through the identity verification stage and we were able to complete enrollment. Still have not heard from the insurance company but it looks like we were able to get out of limbo. So I suggest having someone else in the household apply for everyone. This workaround seemed to work.

  2. Youme says:

    You need to sign up through the gov site for subsidy help. If you make a lot of money, then you can just bypass it.

  3. Youme says:

    I’m in the same boat. It’s been this way for 7 weeks now. I asked through chat what to do, and they gave me the 1-800 number. I called the 1-800 number and the lady said her PC froze up so she was going to put me back in the queue, so a lady asking me about Medicare answers next and I explain to her I am calling about a healthcare.gov issue and she is confused, she tells me she is sorry and that she cannot transfer me and I must hang up. I hang up and call back, the lady who answers tells me I need to mail in a photocopy of id to an address, and put my application ID # on it.

    This is where I am at right now. What a pain in the rear. I want this to work, I really do. I got denied coverage because my last job had a mandatory physical day for every employee. They said my cholesterol was slightly high. I lost that job due to a merger, and now I am denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions from EVERYONE because I have “high cholesterol”.

    As much as people rail on the government, I wish they’d just drop the freaking hammer on this industry altogether and do it themselves like the military. It literally cannot get any worse. We have the best military because it is government run and managed, lets dump just as much money into a government run healthcare industry and make it the best as well.

  4. DC HM says:

    Oh how right you are! I’m in MI and have the same problem. I already went through step 1) … well, I did not harass the (2) rep’s because they were both really nice/patient… did not get to step 2) so I don’t know how the other side looks like, BUT when I said that the “the real Catch22 is the ID verification through an out of state company that stalls the process of people enrolling” the rep answered “you’re way ahead of many in understanding the real ACA problem”

  5. Jonathan Levy says:

    For self employed people the only access to healthcare.gov is via perjury – once you estimate the 2014 income, the system then demands proof – how can you prove income that is not there or for that matter 2013 income until you file taxes? I received a Notice that unless I prove my 2014 income by January 8, 2014, I am kicked out of the program. I tried complaining to helathcare.gov – they promise to look into it but never call back. I tried my Congressman, “Hiking the Appalachian Trail” Sanford who must have been out hiking somewhere as his office never called me back. The only solution is to request a Due Process fair hearing and clog their worthless system with complaints that they will need to process or violate your Consitutional rights since this is a government program. File an Appel – the form is on their website.

  6. StephD says:

    I’m in New Mexico and have had the exact same experience with the identity verification. I know I answered all the questions correctly. I uploaded a JPG of my driver’s license over a month ago and my verification is still pending. I’m curious as to whether anyone reading this has actually made to the other side of the verification and if so, 1) did you have to harass a guide or other ACA representative, and 2) what does the other side look like?

  7. all says:

    Exact ditto problem. This is just like going in circle with no end in sight. it is 3 weeks since I have been waiting for id verification to complete. Seriously, any graduate student can build a much sophisticated site than what we have “healthcare.gov”.

  8. Rick Davis says:

    I have the same exact situation. They were suppose to fix the problem and promised a return phone call yesterday. Still waiting on the phone call.

  9. Ronda Sweet says:

    After 5 phone calls, 3 live chats and numerous attempts, I can now log in. However, I can’t see or do anything because they cannot verify my identity. To verify my identity, I need to call Experian, the credit reporting agency. However, they can’t do anything without a reference number.However, the system won’t give me a reference number. The 800# can’t give me a reference number and didn’t even give me the phone number to Experian, the live chat person did – and that did no good as the site won’t give me a reference number. No one has the reference number. I was told to log off and log in again. I really think 10 off and on’s should have done it. But no……. So no idea where to go from here. Phone says they can’t help, live chat can’t help and experian can do nothing without the reference number the stupid website didn’t generate. I have enrolled twice by phone, but my information gets lost. This is beyond ridiculous.

  10. Angie says:

    I sent a copy of my driver’s license via the website to “verify my identity” almost a month ago, and still NOTHING! Does anyone have any experience why it takes so long????

  11. BloggerDave says:

    Thanks for replying Becca….

  12. Bob F. says:

    Hahaha! I’ve called the 800# multiple times (and live chat) and they haven’t been able to help. yesterday’s answer was “it’s not your fault, it’s ours, the west coast is having issues.” But still, no help to me there.

  13. BeccaM says:

    Thanks for the link, CJTX. There’s been a fair amount of helpful pointers there, like yours, which was one of my sneakier reasons for posting this. I was hoping folks would offer helpful suggestions and ideas, because if nothing else, I know I’m not the only one to experience the brick wall.

  14. BeccaM says:

    Thanks Badgerite. I’m sure it will, eventually.

  15. Badgerite says:

    Seriously. I think they hired the guys who brought the world that wonderful Microsoft Vista operating system. There is a lot of stupid redundancy. Simplify please.
    It is getting better, though. Now, at least they have local numbers to call which it seems to me should have been an obvious thing to have from day one. Sometimes, you want to talk to a person. And live chat is currently only so-so and is no substitute for talking to a living breathing thinking human being who can get you answers and expedite the process.

  16. Badgerite says:

    Good luck to both of you and if at first you don’t succeed——–
    I think, in the end, it will be worth the trouble to you of getting signed up.

  17. CJTX says:

    Becca I was finally able to successfully create an account and login and complete the application. It’s slow going, but better than not even being able to create an account like two days ago. Anyway, in reference to tax premium credit, the site led me to the link below, which I thought I’d share. I too have foregone insurance for the last 8 years. Medical bills for two relatively minor incidents are near $20k. I’m in need of physical therapy and drastic dental work and my old doctors said I’ll be needing a minor heart procedure when I get to my 40’s (about 4 years). I really think this system will be a relief – once the annoying logistics get fixed. Best – CJ https://www.healthcare.gov/help/how-to-use-your-premium-tax-credit/

  18. BloggerDave says:

    I didn’t read that you called the 800 #…

  19. BeccaM says:

    My current plan is to (1) wait a few weeks until the 1st or 2nd week in November to see if the self-serve option gets any better. If not, then (2) approach a local, reputable insurance broker.

    Having spent the better part of a decade without insurance, I don’t want to go ‘naked’ again if I can at all help it. Plus, at my age, anything can happen without warning.

    My personal nightmare through those years of no-coverage was that I’d get sick and/or die, and my wife would be left penniless.

  20. CJTX says:

    I agree it’s confusing and far from satisfying…I just thought the linked article had some of the answers you were looking for. I was just telling a neighbor that health care will continue to be confusing under the ACA and that we as consumers still have to do a lot of our own research. (Oh how I yearn for socialized canadian or french healthcare!) Things depend so very much on each person’s collective circumstances, income, children, dependency, state (I’m just over the border from you in Texas), public aid, and on and on and on. I have VERY variable income and I think sitting with an CPA would probably be a worthwhile investment for people in our work situations. $100 bucks would be a worthy investment if it helps you save $1,000 or whatever. Also, if your business does regular income reconciling at the end of each month or quarter, that would seem to be a good time to “notify the marketplace of income fluctuation”. The thing says there is no limit to how many times you can notify them of a change. My very informal reading of it is that it’s only a concern if you’re near the 400% FPL. If you are, then yeah, you seem to have to gamble, either tax the credit or wait till next year when you file and everything’s settled and then take it. There seem to be some caps on how high the repayment would be, but I don’t understand it all. Finally I’m kinda curious about the language regarding “pay back”. If you’re expecting an income tax refund and you have to “pay back”, I’m wondering if it’s just deducted from your return like normal IRS tax credits and debits are. It would have been MUCH simpler if they did accept the prior year’s returns. I wonder if this “Estimate 2014 income” thing will be for just the first year and then they’ll use your prior tax return, like every other income-based thing on the planet. If I had to make an uninformed choice, it would seem to be safer to bite the bullet in 2014 and pay the un-discounted policy price, then once 2014 taxes are filed, you can take the credit in 2015 and just ride that savings each year. http://www.irs.gov/uac/The-Premium-Tax-Credit

  21. Badgerite says:

    I did manage to actually get the question I asked answered, finally, via the ‘live chat’ button on Healthcare.gov. And that question was when do you absolutely, positively have to be signed up to avoid a penalty on your 2015 taxes. And the answer is——March 31, 2014. You are allowed to have 3 months of non coverage in a year so the January 1, 2014 deadline actually extends to March 31,2014. And that is when open enrollment ends as well. You can wait and look around locally for answers and hope the websites get better.

  22. BeccaM says:

    I looked at that, and it’s dreadful. So now, instead of worrying about my tax situation when it’s time to file quarterlies and year-end taxes, I’m supposed to ‘report income fluctuations to the exchange as they happen’? Not exactly a viable way to go either.

    I did see from your linked site there that they say one option is to forgo the monthly subsidy and, when I file my 2014 taxes in April 2015, take a tax credit for the amount I would’ve gotten as a premium subsidy. Y’see — this information isn’t anywhere on the Healthcare.gov website. Or if it is, because it won’t let me complete the process, I’m not allowed to see the information yet.

    We’re also getting into the kind of territory where one practically has to be a tax accountant to understand how it all works. Going back to my example in the post above: My rate for the PPACA high-risk pool in the current calendar year was determined by the previous year’s taxable income. Period, end of. No ambiguity, no prognostication. No assumed gamble that if I’m wrong, I could suddenly be faced either with a massive tax bill because I erroneously took the subsidy and had a decent year -or- end up struggling all year during a crappy business downturn just to keep my unsubsidized policy from lapsing. Those seem to be my two choices with this new system.

  23. BeccaM says:

    Were you able to get subsidy and/or premium assistance information, too?

  24. zorbear says:

    But only a brilliant private contractor with a gun can beat a dumb private contractor…

    Isn’t that how it works?

  25. CJTX says:

    This list of FAQ’s has the answer to some of your questions, i.e. 2014 estimate, businesses with unpredictable incomes, coverage for gay couples…


  26. chris10858 says:

    I’ve tried to go through the process myself and as someone who has been involved in many large scale software and similar system rollouts, I must say the federal exchange is screwed up in many, many ways. It’s not just a little glitch here or there. It seems as if the code was written by a bunch of sophomore-level college Computer Science students.

    Furthermore, the process flow itself is really screwed up. As both John and Becca have mentioned, you have to go through an entire application process just to find out about the plans and what they cover. I myself make a higher salary and so I know I wouldn’t be eligible for a subsidy. So, I’d just like to see how much say a Platinum level plan would cost me. On the federal exchange, they should just redo it and make it similar to say California’s site.

    In fact, out of curiosity, I went to the California site the other day and put in a Cali address (90210) and was able to both look at the cost for various plans as well as see what is covered and the various co-pays. The whole process took less than 5 minutes.

    The Federal Exchange site and process they have setup seems to be an organizational level failure and they have really gave some ammo to the tea baggers that the president and others will now have to defend.

  27. perljammer says:

    One of the points made by Clay Johnson was that the Federal Government favors a very limited group of companies when it comes to IT projects, and those companies seem to have brilliant lawyers and mediocre software developers. To me, this smacks of a high degree of laziness and/or incompetence in the government procurement process as applied to IT projects. You don’t see these sorts of problems when it comes to building physical infrastructure such as highways, where most of the work is performed by private contractors.

  28. BeccaM says:

    I did. And my experience was similar to what John said below. They didn’t know anything. I even asked, “So how exactly do I go about browsing the plans?”

    “Go through the application process and you’ll see them right there on the site.”

    “Can you summarize them for me? I can give you my data.”

    “No, just complete the application and they’ll be right there. I don’t have specific information on the plans in your state.”

    “But I can’t complete the application because the site won’t verify my identity.”

    I didn’t bother to include the phone call in the chronology because it was as much a waste of time as everything else I tried. And I didn’t even get any useful info out of it. As ever, the instructions were never, “Sure, let me sign you up.” It was always, “Let me answer your questions about the healthcare.gov website and how it works.”

  29. nicho says:

    But they were private contractors. Private contractors are brilliant. We have to privatize everything. Only the brilliance of the private contractors will save us.

  30. nicho says:

    Wow — two whole hours to get affordable health care. Why those bastards! But I guess it beats spending six hours in line at the free clinic.

  31. Patricia Lil says:

    The alternative, I guess, would be for them to have based your income on 2012 tax returns. That would not be good for those who are now unemployed but had a good income in 2012. I think the best thing is to estimate high. Then you true up on your tax return and might get a nice refund.

  32. Rafael says:

    i signed up (rec’d the
    completed application ID#) but when i try to view my available options
    on the site, it just hangs with a blank screen. So, they are ‘getting
    people signed up’ but NOT providing the information you would need to
    choose a plan and get into a particular coverage level. Obviously that’s
    the ‘nitty-gritty part of the system and as of today IT DOESN’T WORK.
    And just as obviously, they have got this system half working to easily
    log in, provide THEM all the information, then just leave you hanging.
    Because then they can report your ‘successful account signup’ as an
    indication you will be in the program or are in the program going
    forward. Classic example of managing the available data to present the
    prettiest picture of a very ugly trainwreck.

    What the media needs to ascertain is how many people have actually
    SELECTED a plan from the federal site and will be receiving coverage. I
    would be willing to bet the answer to that question will amaze, or
    dismay MANY people.

    I wasted three hours with this POS site. Obama, stick to politics, your IT capabilities suck.

  33. sneakerchad says:

    These are just the top two plans for the Platinum level. For me, $280 a month is VERY cheap. I was paying over $300 for a crappy catastrophic plan that covered nothing. I am VERY happy with Obamacare. And waiting two hours is not a big deal. Every try to buy concert tickets online?

  34. just_AC says:

    my main problem with this health care is, as a small business owner facing higher costs, I am going to have to raise my prices not only to pay for insurance, but also to help pay off everybody else that is raising THEIR prices! Plus, how many companies are going to use this as an excuse to raise prices and put the blame on Obama?

  35. Bill_Perdue says:

    It’s not a website problem, the whole concept of Obamacare is based on corruption, bribes, secret meeting between Obama and insurance/pharmaceutical executives which imposed a right wing, for profit Republican plan that leaves workers with new costs and inadequate care.

    We need socialized medicine.

  36. just_AC says:

    value penguin did in some cases, but who knows if it is accurate? Plus, figuring out wheat your adjusted modified Gross Income is, is very difficult for small business owners

  37. Patricia Lil says:

    I wonder if the private insurance companies that are being recommended here can provide the amount of the subsidy if any. I read elsewhere it is a good option to go privately if you are not eligible for help.

  38. just_AC says:

    Try going to www. valuepenguin. com – it worked VERY simple and people says it is accurate. Hey, the 1-800 number from the govenrment DOES work! 1-800-F1UCK-YO – verified by wikipedia

  39. ArthurH says:

    Apparently the glitch ACA website is creating work for others. The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents on Tuesday sent out a press release noting that local licensing insurance agents can help people get into affordable insurance plans that provide the coverage they need without the hassles of dealing with the website. Good idea in that many of the people who most need health insurance may not have computer access or may be using outdated operating programs that cannot fully access the federal website as currently programmed.

  40. worfington says:

    It only took two hours to register so you could comparison shop? If that’s your idea of a ringing endorsement, what would you consider a failure?

  41. NomadBear says:

    To me, if there is “blame” to be laid for a lot of the .gov website problems, it should be given to the states which refused to set up their own sites and pawned off their residents to the federal site.
    Example: my brother who is totally computer-phobic and his wife who isn’t much better got on the California site and in two days found a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan better than what she has now. They currently pay just over $1000/month and the new plan will cost $176.
    Thanks Obama.

  42. Mighty says:

    Fyi you can sign up without using the govt website. Go directly to private ins company sites. I went directly to bcbstx. They list all plans and prices their that they have on exchange. People are making this more problematic than it has to be.

  43. emjayay says:

    New York city has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over periods of years for various systems for payroll or whatever and then junked the whole thing and started over. This probably happens all over the place.

  44. lynchie says:

    I have employer insurance and our deductible is $5,000 it depends on which plan they choose. Keep in mind that if they now have no insurance they pay 100% of the cost for any care. They website is a disaster see my post above but this marrying industry with what should be single payer was bound to be full of horror stories.

  45. emjayay says:

    Of course every business and government agency that you call uses automated voice mail systems to keep from having a human ever talk to you. When Medicare started there was probably tons of money to hire many thousands of people to work the phones and thousands of phones and phone lines put in. And no 400 million spent on bad web design. Back in the early years of Social Security a lot of people didn’t even have phones. So they set up lots of big Social Security offices with hundreds of people and no doubt a hundreds of filing cabinets and tons of forms. Where is your local ACA office? Nowhere.

    Getting unemployment in New York State is easy online. They now no doubt save millions on employees and office space and make it far easier than it used to be for recipients. If you have a problem, calling New York State Unemployment today gets you into a many multi level automated voice mail (or whatever it is you call that) thing. Each step requires listening to five or six options. It often isn’t obvious which one will not get you to a long message and a hang up. After guessing your way to where you think you might find a human it says everyone is busy and you can wait. After waiting a long time it says you have to make an appointment for someone to call you back. You have to choose from hours for every day for the rest of the week. Every one you try says there are no more appointments, but you have to try them to find that out. Eventually you have tried every hour of every day and the last one says the same thing. Back in the olden days a human would answer the phone and direct your call to a human who would help you.

    If you apply for SNAP online it says everything is fine and then a week or two later someone calls you and says actually you have to submit some forms which you have to fax or scan. You have a scanner and scan and email them. You are told everything looks good and you will be getting a notice. The notice says you have to bring in more forms but doesn’t say what they are. It gives you a number to call if you have any questions. Calling that number for the local SNAP office gets you a message that says everyone is busy but they will return your call as soon as possible. You can leave messages every day of the week and no one will ever call you back. You have to go to the office and spend a couple hours finding out what they want. You bring them in. Then a couple of weeks later you get a letter saying the rent receipts they originally asked for aren’t enough and you need a letter from your landlord.
    Get the picture? No one has the staff to talk to anyone. No one wants to rent the office space needed to do anything in person. No one wants to talk to anyone. No one is trained enough to actually know what they are doing. The ACA situation isn’t unique.

  46. lynchie says:

    My experience is that it depends on whether it is the federal website or the state. The state exchanges, so I have been told work fairly seamlessly. The red states who have rejected Obamacare all take you to the federal web site. which is a debacle and there is no excuse for that, none. I heard someone on a talk show asking for Sebilius’ firing and my first reaction was that it wouldn’t solve anything. But on reflection I say fire her. She and the people under her were charged with making this signature piece of Obama’s legacy work with out flaws. To hear now that they did not fully test it, that they knew of flaws and did nothing all speaks to accountability and we need to start holding our elected officials and their appointees accountable. The housing disaster, wall street and bank bailouts, Katrina and on and on. Everyone gets a pass when the government is involved one way or another. if i screw up at my job on a big project, i can guarantee I would be fired and I would expect it. We also need to ask for a full refund from the company who wrote the software and allowed it to go into effect without making sure it works and works properly. This administration has to stop making it easy for the GOP, Rush and Fox to throw shit bombs. Look everytime there is a glitch that fuels the fire and there are so many stupid people in this country that lack even a sliver of curiousity who will question nothing and believe everything and this is another example of an issue that cofirms the government can’t run anything and can’t be trusted.

  47. Drew2u says:

    Your experience of 50 plans could be just for your area. I browsed what’s available in my area and I only get a list of maybe a dozen with most of them seeming to be a derivation of the same 3 companies’ plans.

  48. Drew2u says:

    Would you be able to provide a couple of comparison plans?

  49. I’d be curious how they walked you through 50 plans by phone.

  50. Actually, I didn’t write about my phone experience. I kept getting the same idiot who had no idea how the plan worked, she’d put me on hold for five minutes, then come back and read me what was already written in the pdf that I already downloaded. The people on the phone suck. I asked if they cover my allergy shots? We don’t know. What do you mean you don’t know? You have someone walk you through 50 insurance policies, that aren’t in front of you face, by phone, then get back to me about how “bitchy” Becca is for reporting on her horrific experience with something that should have never been this bad in the first place.

  51. JohnTSmith says:

    “affordable”, really? according to what experts? every one of them, without an agenda, said these plans will not be affordable. $1500-10000 deductibles for people who never had coverage before. how are they going to afford that?

  52. perljammer says:

    And yet today, the preferred method for enrolling in Social Security is via http://www.ssa.gov.

    But yeah, going back in time 20 years is a great workaround. Wouldn’t you just love to be an ACA call center employee on December 15?

  53. sneakerchad says:

    Sorry for your pains but I had no problem at all with healthcare.gov. I got an id and was able to comparison shop in a matter of two hours. Not only was it easy to comparison shop but I qualify for health plans that are simply amazing, with real benefits, all for less then I was paying for a crappy catastrophic plan which had no benefits. I am sorry for sounding mean, but I have had nothing but good experiences with Obamacare.

  54. bobbybear.i.am says:

    Wow!! Imagine how hard people had it back when Medicare and Social Security came along and there wasn’t a website. I bet they all just bitched and moaned and did without till they invented the internet decades later. PICK UP A FRICKIN’ PHONE!!!!

  55. TonyT says:

    Stop banging your head against the wall. I tried twice and when that didn’t work I called the 800 number. Took 20 minutes to enroll.

  56. S1AMER says:

    Yes, yes, YES!!! Tens of millions of people are on the verge of having affordable health-care coverage. That’s the prize on which we shuld all keep our eyes.

    The web site will get fixed. Yes, it should have been done right to begin with, but that’s water under the bridge right now. What matters, what really matters, is that we all work our damnedest to make sure nothing happens to limit in any way the insurance coverage soon to come to tens of millions of our fellow Americans.

  57. perljammer says:

    Just saw a talking head on CNN say that he conducted a study that concluded that 96% of Federal IT projects exceeding $10 million, ultimately fail. 96%. Obviously, there is a lot very wrong with the government procurement system when quit comes to IT.

  58. A_nonymoose says:

    We need to separate the indignation over incompetent web design from the obvious benefit of the existence of the ACA. I’m afraid with all the complaining, the two are getting combined. Fix the damn thing, already!

  59. Indigo says:

    Medicare remains intact, as far as I know, and my supplemental remains part of my retirement package, so I’m good for now. I’m distressed by the level of incompetence in the web site design that’s being reported because it suggests a cavalier attitude somewhere in the bureaucracy that does not generate confidence in the system being developed. And that’s outrageous! Medical care is a human right! Incompetent web design is the self-generated entitlement of IT parasites. Where is the investigation of criminal negligence?

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