So the open enrollment is going on with Obamacare, and I figured with all the hoopla I would look into it and see how bad things really are. I'm a technical guy, so I figure if I can't get a site to work then probably no one can. But, I live in Washington, so we don't use the HealthCare.gov site -- we have our own exchange just for the state of WA: www.wahealthplanfinder.org. Catchy name, isn't it? What follows is my journey into how NOT to do things if you're trying to sign up. I've snagged a bunch of images, grayed out names and dates, but otherwise this is what you'd experience if you follow the same steps.
start at the home page, and there are several large buttons calling for
attention: Find and Compare Health Plans, Apply for Coverage, and in
the bottom-right is the sign-in section. Naturally, first time users
don't have an account yet, but there's an option down there: Create an
account. Again, I'm a tech savvy person, so I figured I'd just jump
right in and start with creating an account. This, it seems, was a
an account was pretty straightforward -- choose a user name (it has to
have at least six characters with one number and one letter, with a
maximum length of 20 characters. The password requirement is a bit more
strict: at least eight characters, 1 UPPERCASE letter, 1 lowercase
letter, 1 number, and 1 special character. Enter your email address,
pick and answer three security questions, agree to the Conditions of
Use, and you're done. Ready to search for plans and apply for coverage
now? TOO BAD! Here's what you get:
now I can log in or create an account! We're getting somewhere. Except,
we're not, since I already created an account. If I sign in, I'm back
to the empty dashboard. If I try to create a new account, the system
figures out that I've already created an account (same SSN, after all),
and I'm stuck again.
There are a few more pieces of
information to tack on, however. First is that the "estimated price
after tax credit" figures are apparently a joke -- you'll pay more than
this unless you're on Medicaid, from what I've read elsewhere. And
that's apparently assuming your application is even accepted, which it
might not be -- if it was guaranteed, you wouldn't be applying, right?
Of course, you have to go through the site if you want any chance
at a tax credit; skip the exchange and you're stuck paying the full
price no matter what.
My bet: even if I happen to
qualify for a tax credit, it will likely end up being smoke and mirrors.
If I get a $200 tax credit on my health insurance but my other federal
taxes end up being $300 higher, it's a net loss of $100. And as I've
mentioned before, with all of the people now guaranteed the ability to
get some form of coverage (if you can't get accepted on an application,
you can always go with the single provider government option), I suspect
a tax rate hike is coming down the pipe.
trying to make some phone calls this week to see if I can get to the
"apply" stage, which will likely require some serious time on hold. Wish