Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Affordable Fiasco

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For the past two weeks I had unsuccessfully attempted to access the Covered California online enrollment website.

I had been met with a variety of problems, none of which I had not experienced on other websites, private or governmental.  Some of the messages….

“error 404”

“page unavailable”,

“blank screen with whirling circle”,

“website is busy”,

“please wait”,

“blank screen….”

“try again later”,

“refresh to submit information again, do not click on back arrow”.  I have also had some success although on different occasions I hit a stone wall at different places on Covered California, and each time the ‘glitch’ occurred at a different stage of ‘’enrollment’. 

Along the way I came across an article by Paul Ehrlich about the 13 greatest error messages from computers.

The upside was that none of the messages were DOS errors, i.e.  Abort, Retry, Fail which is usually just before the “Windows Blue Screen of Death”

  Anyone who has seen this screen knows the next event is the computer shutting down and if you are lucky it will re-boot on it’s own. 

“To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.” So goes an old quip attributed to Paul Ehrlich.  So one sees that this is not an Affordable Care Act failure, at all.

Never once did I receive positive reinforcement nor a ‘successfully enrolled’.  On one occasion I did see a screen with the different plans, and calculators which revealed subsidized plans and premium rates based upon your level of near poverty or destitution….It is hard to believe how many of us are on the thin line and impoverished, living from paycheck to paycheck.

I discovered a secret path and backdoor by searching on Google.  It took me to another non-official looking site that allowed me to look up plans and premiums.

Finally after two weeks of unenthusiastic attempts to register I submitted to the old fashioned  “P.O.T.S.”  It worked ! I was able to reach a person in one minute without going through a telephone triage system. The entire process took about five minutes. I will receive a mail (snail) within ten days informing me of eligibility and plans I from which I will chose.

This ‘foolproof’ system cost a lot less than $ 650 million dollars, and has been around for at least one hundred years.

(My telephone---the worst that happens is, there is no dial tone.)

For the young crowd (those who are mandated to obtain health insurance, to pay for the rest of us old codgers  P.O.T.S. is the abbreviation for  “Plain Old Telephone Service”  This was in the age before transistors and silicon valley.

My answer to Californians is to dial  800-300-1506 . Overly simple for most and it worked the first time.  (Don’t tell anyone else, until you have enrolled)

In all  fairness here is what the  HHS blog had to say,

We’re listening — and improving every day

October 21, 2013



We know using HealthCare.go has been frustrating for many Americans. The initial consumer experience of HealthCare.go has not lived up to the expectations of the American people. We are committed to doing better.

We’ve been gathering feedback since the day we launched – from our customer service representatives, social media channels, and through hundreds of thousands of online surveys and comments. And we’re listening.

We’ve been making changes to respond directly to your feedback and will continue to do so. A few of our most important changes so far:

  • You can now preview plans and prices available in your area without filling out the online application.
  • You can find out, with an improved calculator, whether your income and household size may qualify you for lower costs on your monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
  • You can apply for coverage 4 ways: By phone, online, by mail with a paper application, or with the help of an in-person assister.
  • We’ve been adding educational online content where you tell us you need more information: About estimating your income, accounting for people in your household, eligibility rules, and more.

And please keep the feedback coming – on this blog post below, on any of our social media pages, or by using the little “Was this page helpful?” survey that appears near the bottom of most pages on the site.

We won’t rest until every American who needs affordable, high-quality coverage can get it - using whatever method works best for them.

 

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