How Do You Sign Up For Obamacare? One Soon-To-Be 26-Year-Old's Valiant Effort
Full disclosure: I am thankful for Obamacare. As someone who recently lost their full-time job and is turning 26 (the cut-off age for people still on their parents' insurance plans) just before the first deadline on Dec. 23, I'm all for finding health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's federal marketplace. But like many others, I've been following the Healthcare.gov debacle with frustration and dread.
Because of the website's glitches and setbacks — including a very botched rollout that's only signed up a fraction of the projected number — I decided to stay completely away from Healthcare.gov until it was up and running properly, which was promised by Nov. 30. Apparently, a lot of other people had the same idea, because the president warned applicants not to overburden the fragile site during Thanksgiving weekend. Though the Obama administration missed its self-imposed deadline by a day or so, it claims the site is now running smoothly and is able to hold 50,000 at a time now. Well, I've got news for you all: Healthcare.gov still doesn't work for me. The website — nay, the entire process — is confusing and repetitive.
Please, won't you join me on my Healthcare.gov journey.
Monday, Dec. 2, 1:20 p.m.
I sit down at my desk, ready to sign up for health insurance. I'm excited and curious to finally see what it's all about. Let's do this!
Spoiler alert: It turns out you can't just rush into this decision. The Obama administration wants you to actually read things on the website, like a one-page guide on how to use the marketplace, before you can even sign up for an account. Damn socialists, am I right?
I click on the "See if I Can Get Lower Costs" button, because I am a cheapskate. I can! Great!
Monday, Dec. 2, 1:42 p.m.
OK, now I click on the "See Plans Before I Apply" button, where I'm prompted to choose whether I'm picking coverage for myself or my family, if I want health or dental (but not health AND dental, although the site tells me some plans do include dental), what my age is, and where I live. Easy-peasy.
After inputting all my information, I'm given a list of insurance plans for my age group and county. And I have to admit, I had some serious sticker shock. I'm talkin' $6,000 deductibles for some plans.
I go back and input my information again. And the same choices come up.
(Some non-"catastrophic" plans had similar pricing as well.) At this point, I realize that some plans have a link below them that reassures users who qualify for lower out-of-pocket costs or premiums that their final price will be calculated once they sign up for an account. Whew.
Monday, Dec. 2, 1:50 p.m.
Moving right along. I haven't decided on a plan yet, but I decide to sign up for an account anyway to see what my actual prices will look like. I go over to the marketplace homepage and click "Apply Online." I'm immediately hit with this sucker:
The site also tells me that I can enroll by phone by calling 1-800-318-2596. But why would I want to do that when the Internet is right here and doesn't require me speaking to anyone? Granted, it would help me to find out answers to potentially important questions like What happens if I move to another state? or What happens if I get a full-time job with health insurance?
Monday, Dec. 2, 2:01 p.m.
Oh well, staring at the screen isn't doing anything. I guess I'm not getting insurance today. Time to use the last of those Thanksgiving leftovers for a delicious sandwich.
Tuesday, Dec. 3, 1:30 p.m.
I pitch my Obamacare woes to my (awesome) editor. She's all for posting a story about it.
Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2:34 p.m.
Oh, now the website decides to let me create an account. How nice. I'm ready again!
Boom. We're in business.
OK, now it's time for me to input a username and password that I will forget in about four minutes. For some odd reason, it didn't like any username that I was typing in, even though I followed the instructions exactly as they were posted.
Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2:43 p.m.
The security questions on this site are kind of outdated and could use a copy editor.
"What's your favorite radio station?" Really, c'mon, no one listens to the radio anymore. "What is a relative's telephone number that is not your own?" Does anyone know phone numbers by heart anymore? Even my 80-year-old grandma texts me.
I had one lurking concern as I was filling out my security questionnaire: How secure is this site, really? What could stop a skilled hacker — or an unskilled one, based on all the other technological burps suffered along the way — from gaining access to all of our personal information? Did they rush to fix the problems so quickly that they are pushing safety to the wayside? Others have raised similar concerns, citing possible login fraud or look-alike sites. Deep breaths, Adrienne.
Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2:50 p.m.
Despite my paranoia, I forged ahead and made progress. Yay!
Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2:55 p.m.
I AM READY TO SIGN IN.
Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2:56 p.m.
I AM NOT READY TO SIGN IN.
Tuesday, Dec. 3, 3:04 p.m.
I see this tweet.
And this is me right now: