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Descent Into Madness: An Account of One Man’s Visit to Healthcare.gov October 1st

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As the owners of small businesses, my family has been curious to learn how much insurance would cost us once the Affordable Care Act kicks in – and what our choices of networks, providers and whatnot would be.

With the arrival of the October 1 open enrollment period, my first computer stop was healthcare.gov to begin comparison shopping among the four ACA plans vs. the COBRA plan that we have through the end of 2014.

Here’s how it went:

October 1, 2013

7:30 a.m. – I first encounter the Health Insurance Marketplace waiting room.

7:33 a.m. – The drop-down boxes on the security questions aren’t working.

7:34 a.m. – The healthcare.gov website blames users for errors it created.

7:36 a.m. – I click on the “Live Chat” button.

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7:48 a.m. – Live chat robo-message says, “Please be patient while we’re helping other people.”


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8:21 a.m. – After telling me to “Please be patient while we’re helping other people” more than 30 times, the robo-message tells me they are having technical problems – but they hope they answered my question.

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9:41 a.m. – @HealthCareGov Tweets, “Thanks for all your comments and updates as you enroll. We apologize that wait times on the site and hotline are longer than expected! We’re working to fix these issues as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience.”

10:00 a.m. – HHS spokeswoman says, ”We have built a dynamic system and are prepared to make adjustments as needed and improve the consumer experience.”

11:00 a.m. – HHS Tweets, “Have a story about what health insurance means to you & your family? Tell us using #GetCovered.@HealthCareGov.”

11:00 a.m. – I tell them I can’t set up an account. They don’t respond.

11:00 a.m. – 10 p.m. – I try periodically to get on to the site. Hours spent in waiting room, followed by security question drop boxes not working.

Sometime during the day – President Obama says the long waits prove how badly the program was needed and compares ACA to iOS7.

(Note: I got iOS7 on opening day.)

5:51 p.m. – Secretary Sebelius, after urging people to sign up in the morning, retweets this from @HealthCareGov: “2.8 million people have visited http://HealthCare.gov today and we’ve received 81k calls! We’re excited so many people want to #GetCovered

10:42 p.m. – After another lengthy wait in waiting room, the drop boxes finally work! I am just inches from seeing my choices!

10:43 p.m. – Or not:

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10:46 p.m. – I, of course, hadn’t chosen the same security answers to different questions. But, whatever. I choose separate security questions and answers – and advance to the next page!

10:47 p.m. – I receive an email to verify my account. I. Am. So. Close. Or not:

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10:48 p.m. – Two tries later, and I’m in!

10:49 p.m. – Or not:

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10:50 p.m. – And, of course, I’m sent back to the waiting room:

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11:49 p.m. – And this is what I’m looking at an hour later:

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October 2, 2013

12:25 a.m. – I close the laptop and go to sleep, only incrementally closer to learning what my health insurance options are.

7:58 a.m. – After a lengthy waiting room stay (hello, my old friend!), I’m told my username and/or password is wrong.

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7:58:30 a.m – Still wrong.

7:58:43 a.m. – Still wrong.

7:59 a.m. – 8:25 a.m. – Back to the waiting room.

8:26 a.m. – healthcare.gov tells me the account it says I created and verified at 10:50 p.m. the night before does not exist:

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8:27 a.m – And back to the waiting room.

Tony Jewell is the founder of Boardwalk Public Relations in Ventnor, New Jersey. He is a former corporate and state and federal government spokesman. This post originally appeared in his blog, Life in the Affordable Care Act.

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Guest

fantastic points altogether, you simply received a
new reader. What would you recommend in regards to your post that you just made a few days
ago? Any positive?

Shawn
Guest
Shawn

I have experienced nothing but negative with the healthcare marketplace. For starters, my personal, non-work provided healthcare has gone up substantially. My employer pays me extra so we can pay for our personal healthcare and my rates have increased substantially with the new legislation and implementation of the healthcare market place. After calculating the expenses of regular check-ups, prescriptions, o-pays etc. for my family of 4, I have come to the conclusion that I would now be better off paying out of pocket so I do not have to cover those that can’t afford to pay for themselves. What a… Read more »

Nicki
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Nicki

OMG! I have had a similarly frustrating experience!! UGH!

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David B Ray
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David B Ray

I am SHOCKED and AMAZED to be a part of all this Government’s Healthcare Debacle. Reports have it that I am the only person here in the whole state of North Carolina, that successfully enrolled on the HEALTHCARE.GOV’s website. I finally enrolled on the HEALTHCARE.GOV website a couple week ago only after numerous failed attempts to enter the website to do so. Even after finally being able to enroll though, I still haven’t taken the last step to purchase a insurance plan as of date to finish my enrollment. After hearing them talk about the number’s of American’s that still… Read more »

Eddie MJ
Guest
Eddie MJ

Well, guys… Here goes my rant… Maybe you’ve heard it before… I don’t have credit so I could not be verified through Experian (the worst of ALL the big three, thanks Mr. President), and so I had to upload my verification documents to the healthcare website, which I did, and successfully after MANY unsuccessful attempts… That was Oct 6 (I tried signing up on Oct. 1, but it took A WEEK to finally do it). It’s Oct 29 now… MY IDENTITY HAS STILL NOT BEEN VERIFIED. When I call or chat with a rep (the rudest people on Earth are… Read more »

John T.
Guest

I have created a website that outlines many of the errors (a few solutions too) – http://www.turnics.com Hopefully they will get the site fixed. I was also finally able to get registered and select and insurance policy – it definitely took way too much effort. I can only recommend that if you run into issues, either fill out the paper app and send it in, or keep trying to create new accounts with new email addresses until you get through the identity proofing process – that seemed to be the hangup for me (I still have one account that has… Read more »

Melissa Mission
Guest
Melissa Mission

I too have been having all the problems you listed. I am so ready to just break down and cry. What seemed like it’d be an easy process, has not been. I just thought getting health insurance quotes, or insured would be easy. Unfortunately not. I can’t wait for my hospital bills to come in the mail. Thanks internet.

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Guest

I’ve been exploring the site and had experiences that are similar to those described in the blog post and comments. Something just struck me – Because the site is using Experian to validate identification online, that means a lot of the people the ACA was intended to bring into the system – Young people with no credit history, poor people with no bank accounts or credit history – Won’t be able to use the Web site to get started and will have to go to the backup system, which seems to be picking up the phone and calling someone. Kids… Read more »

Jimmy the C
Guest
Jimmy the C

Based on several studies I have read about the subsidies (one of those studies looked at 15 state costs in great detail):

1) if you are young -don’t expect a subsidy
2) if you make over 250% of FPL don’t expect a subsidy

What happens if we get to January 1 (or the real deadline March 31) and there are not enough enrolled to sustain premium and subsidies?

GWPDA
Guest
GWPDA

What I cannot understand is why on earth a USG website would -contract out- to Experian? The Social Security Administration wasn’t available? E-Verify wouldn’t allow access? Not to mention the fact that the program is written in such a way so as to deny access to anything except IE.

teri
Guest
teri

finally got on filled on identity form and i keep getting

“We were not able to verify the identity of this person. Please confirm the Name, SSN, Gender and Date of Birth.”

all my info is correct and i’ve been getting this message for the last 5 days..and on different computers..even after logging off and back on…. so i guess i don’t exist

Cindy
Guest
Cindy

October 8th. Spent 2+ hours with error after error. Tried 2 different computers with different operating systems…This sucks!

Jimmy46201
Guest
Jimmy46201

Found this via search of: Unexpected Error Error ID:

Expected database/system to stabilize by now but I’ll wait a few more days (I suppose there isn’t a big rush right now to check it out).

+’s: 1. Able to register; 2. Able to confirm email; 3. Can login (sort of)
-‘s: 1. After login get Unexpected Error Error ID:, 2. Password requirements – a pain (but I know probably necessary).

John T
Guest
John T

Consider yourself lucky Sharon. You are definitely in the minority.