My personal experience of trying to sign up for Obamacare exemplifies the problems millions of Americans are having with the healthcare.gov website. I actually had high hopes that I could navigate the site and find out what it would cost under the Affordable Care Act here in Illinois for health care. As a healthy adult in my 50’s I currently pay $464 per month for a high deductible policy with out of pocket costs of $5000 annually not counting the premiums I pay monthly for the plan. My husband has a solid plan for which he pays almost the same amount under COBRA from his prior job. At least it’s a good insurance plan that pays about 80% of everything. But still it’s costly for someone on unemployment. The remainder of my household, a 24 yr old college student, has no insurance.
I decided about a week ago to visit healthcare.gov and see what my options were. I was excited thinking finally maybe we can all get a good policy for about the same cost and maybe even qualify for a discount. Unlike the first time I went to healthcare.gov in early October, this time the website came right up. A few clicks later and I was taken to the Illinois version of the Affordable Care Act. I am good at navigating websites and a whiz when it comes to internet research but still it was a full 30 minutes before I found what I was looking for. With my $52K per year job, plus what my hubby gets on Unemployment and earned earlier in the year we don’t qualify for a subsidy. Well that just figures doesn’t it.
Still I keep plugging away. Many clicks take you to information only pages that then ask you the question “Was this information helpful?” to which I always said “no.” Then it asked ” how can we make it better?” Since I was looking for the prices of insurance for myself, for myself plus my husband, and for me and my husband and son together so I could compare to see if there would be a savings with Obamacare, I typed into the first “How can we make it better” box that I needed price information. I’m thinking maybe if enough people tell them to show prices up front they’ll make that change.
Finally, I see I have to apply to get what I need. So I start with entering information for me. That’s easy because I have the info in my head. Nearly 45 minutes into the process I get prices! Yay! There are lots of policies but it says they are all covering the same things and are named Silver, Gold, Platinum and some other mineral name but the cheapest coverage was $294 per month and it covered only 60%. I look at some more policies and what I want is the good stuff..the Gold plan! The good ones are much more. For a policy that covers 80% the premium is about what I currently pay. I couldn’t tell if there is a deductible. I’m thinking this may be better than my current coverage but I’m just not sure.
So I decide to price it with my family added. I click at least 8 different places. I go back to the beginning. There seems to be no way to add my husband’s information. So I try starting a whole new application. I get a message saying “You can have only one application per person.” Frustration is now setting in and I’ve been more than an hour on the website. The little boxes now pop up saying “How can we make this better?” I begin typing “Impeach Obama” in answer to the question. But I don’t give up.
There is an option of live chat. So I click it. Someone named Richard says he would like to help me today so I’m hopeful. I describe my trouble. He says he has to research it. After a full 5 minutes he replies that they are available by phone. I again type in a description of my problem which is that the website won’t let me add my family to the application so I can compare prices for myself, myself plus husband, and myself plus husband and son. He types back again after 5 minutes the following answer “At Healthcare.gov you can make apples to apples comparisons.” I want to scream. I type back “Are you on Drugs?” At that point I give up and call for a live person.
This time I get Mike. He speaks English and seems helpful. It takes only a moment for him to comprehend what I am saying and he explains that the website won’t let you make changes to the application at this time. If you don’t add everyone initially who you may want coverage for, then you can’t edit it. Apparently this is a known glitch and he says he will escalate my problem to the next level. He says in about 7 days I will get a call back. What a waste of time! Oh well, I’ll just sit tight and wait another week.
After exactly 7 days I get a call back. It was a tech calling about my application at healthcare.gov with such a strong accent I can hardly understand her. I have to keep asking her to repeat what she is saying. She told me “We are having technical problems with the website.” I responded “Yes I know it’s all over the TV.” She says “we want you to know that when we have solution to your problem we will contact you.” That response took a whole week! Unbelievable.
I’m still hopeful. Some day they’ll call with a fix. Meanwhile, I recommend waiting if you want to find out what your Obamacare options are as the website is really a mess. I was thinking maybe this was just the Media creating a story that was blown out of proportion but my experience is that the problems are much worse than what I’ve heard on the news. I’m also not happy that the Obamacare technicians are clearly outsourced! With so many American tax payer dollars spent on this Healthcare Act one would have thought they could have at least created a few American jobs in the process.