Obamacare Has Failed My Family

The Obamacare debacle remains … well, a debacle.

At a time when I should have my family’s insurance coverage locked up for 2014, I learned this past week that — despite previous assurances from the government’s call center — my application for coverage has not been completed or submitted to AmeriHealth.

Let’s start at November 13, when I attempted to finally enroll via healthcare.gov and over the phone.

Even though I had completed all of the necessary steps to that point, the site didn’t work that day and locked my account — allowing me to do nothing more on the healthcare.gov site. I called the call center, who couldn’t even find me in the system — despite the fact I had an account, had selected an insurer and clicked enroll.

They discovered my family in the system once they figured out healthcare.gov had determined my 8-year-old son was the head of the household. The call center operator said we couldn’t do anything until he gave me permission to access the account (he was in school, so that wasn’t happening).

Once they found me and I convinced them I wouldn’t be calling my son’s school for permission, however, they couldn’t access my account because healthcare.gov was down. She advised me to call the insurer to see if they had received my application.

The insurer helpfully said that they wouldn’t even receive the application for three to six weeks after it was submitted via healthcare.gov — which, at best, put us at early December and at worst past the deadline to have insurance on January 1.

Informed of this development, the call center representative apologized and suggested I call back once the website was up and running again — which I did last Monday (November 18). During that call, they were able to access my information and I was assured that my enrollment was being taken care of and it would be submitted once it was processed — leading to this conversation:

“How will I know it is submitted?”

“It just will be,” the call center representative said.

“I’m sorry, I’m just not comfortable with that. I really need to know that it’s submitted.”

“Well, they are reviewing it now, and if there are any issues, they will call you,” she said.


“The people reviewing it,” she answered.

“Who is that?”

“The people,” she said.

“Well, then.”

So, nine days later, I hadn’t received a call, so I attempted to log in to healthcare.gov to see if there was an update to my application.

This is what I was greeted with:

Discouraged, I called the call center again. The first call, the operator sounded like she was in a wind tunnel, so I called back and explained all of the above to the very polite call center operator.After a few minutes of looking at my account, he told me that it remained locked. He also told me that nothing had done with my application due to technical issues that caused it to remain locked.

“But I was told last call that it was being reviewed and would be submitted.”

“Who did they say was reviewing it?” he asked.

“The people.”

“What people?” he asked.


Stuck at that impasse, he said that he would send the information to the technical people (more “people”) who could quickly resolve it and allow me to access my account and complete the necessary steps.

“So what should I do now? When should I try?”

“Well, log out and try again in a few hours,” he said.

“I am logged out because the site isn’t working again.”

“Good,” he said. “Stay logged out and then try again later.”

In short, it is all but impossible we will have insurance in place through the federal exchange by January 1 — even with the very generous eight-day extension.

Which makes what Paul Krugman had to say in the New York Times all the more amusing:

Conservatives are operating on the assumption that it’s an irredeemable disaster that they can ride all the way to 2016; but the facts on the ground are getting better by the day, and Obamacare will turn into a Benghazi-type affair where Republicans are screaming about a scandal nobody else cares about.

And it’s already starting to happen.

Yes, Paul, it is clear you and the wine-swilling set don’t really care about our problems. But the problems are real — and they will have consequences, economically, medically, and politically.

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

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10 replies »

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  2. If you want real crap insurance, try a plan with a lifetime benefit cap, rescission, and an annual renewal process with no guaranteed issue.

    I had the same kind of cushy plan as Krugman, but I now I’m in the individual market and grateful for the ACA minimum requirements.

  3. Krugman speaks from the comfort of his cushy Princeton health insurance plan, so everything is peachy – for him. I wish every day that all of these arrogant elitist pundits lose their employer provided healthcare plans next year, and are thrown into exchanges to learn the definition of crap insurance.

  4. Website is being improved. Now has a delete application button as well as a terminate coverage button, allowing you to reapply without the glitches.

  5. I just went directly to the insurance websites of the companies offering plans in my state, and enrolled there at the one of my choice. Paid my first premium last week. It was cheaper than what I had, too. If you don’t need a subsidy; that’s the way to do it.

  6. Brief update: I still can’t do anything with my account. It remains locked. Tried calling – there was more than a 10-minute wait both times I tried.

    Beyond frustrated.

    On the upside: The White House said today the site is working.

  7. How dare you criticize this site! Government and their computer systems are infallible, as the computer is always right, humans put in the wrong information!!

    Sorry there is not a sarcastic font. But, in all seriousness, how long before we hear thousands of stories like the above, only to hear Obama/Pelosi/Reid et al just say in their insulting and dismissive tones, “you people don’t know what you are doing, just let us sign you up!”

    After all, NSA does have all the info already anyway.

    Man, I look forward to the whistle blowers revealing the level of corruption at hand in this White House and partisan screw ups without hesitation.

  8. Technically speaking data is not being populated and or read correctly. Outside of the volume issues, lack of proper cyber security and 30% of the back-end not being finished; one must ask the question of how well the rest of the code has been written. Specifically, what does it mean for the different modules to work together properly.

    I guess we will find out, but there is a decent chance the whole website will need to be rebuilt from scratch.

    As for Krugman, his economic theories are too tainted by his personal ideologies. Put simply – he doesn’t understand economics. If you wish to look at an economist that really understands the economy look at Roubini.

  9. Getting on is just half the trouble. If u think that what you get that they call insurance will get you good care, think again.

  10. And if Mr Jewell is due a subsidy on his ACA policy, how is that little gem progressing?

    When does he pay the first premium on his policy? Will he have to pay the full gross amount or the amount net of subsidy?

    Acc to Henry Chao of CMS on Nov 19th, the web portals to send subsidy money to insurers have not been programmed at all yet.

    And just to make this more pointed, what if a family member must be hospitalized early in January? What will Mr Jewell be charged if insurance coverage is not in effect?