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I know, I know.  I'll have people rolling their eyes at yet another diary.  Especially one that talks about the site's ongoing (but I must say, increasingly less) glitches.  

Now, let me take you on the journey I've had for the past two weeks.  

I was so excited to finally be able to maybe find some health insurance, having had none for over a year.  In that year, I was diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis (pancolitis) which had me in the hospital around Christmas time last year.  The medication that I have to take for this illness (the one most doctors prescribe anyway) is about $800 for a month supply without insurance.  I've not been able to pay that with my $12,000 a year pay.  So I've gone on the medication they prescribed pre-1980, which has more side effects, but only costs about $30.  And still my doctor visits are about $200 a visit.  As you can see, I definitely need insurance.

I know I wouldn't get it until January, but I thought if I were to get signed up as soon as possible, I'd feel better about things.  I could ask my doctor to postpone my check-up on this illness until January so I wouldn't have to ask my mom if she could pay.  (She paid the 3,000 bucks for my emergency colonoscopy last year, and I don't like asking her to pay for all my stuff.)  

But there were problems.  In the first week, I couldn't even get my log in done.  I'd finish it, it'd say it was accepted, and then wouldn't allow me to log on.  That was fine for me.  I stayed off for about a week.  Then, last week, I was able to log on.  I could get up to the end of the application.  I sign and submit it and...  It says "Please Wait" and then nothing happens.  I get an email saying I got the subsidy.  But that's it.  I can't see the marketplace.  In fact, every time I sign in it tells me my application is still in process.  And it makes me start from the beginning of the application again, despite most of the answers being filled in each time I go through it again.  I must have done this 20 times by now, with the same results each time.  I telephoned and I did live chat.  Neither could help me.  

Now I'm willing to wait, but it does bother me.  I live in a pretty conservative area of Virginia, and everyone knows I was excited about this rollout, so of course they pick on me about it.  I don't lie to these people when they ask me if I've been able to get it to work.  I say it's getting better, but no, I haven't gotten it to work completely.  And then they go off on the usual Obama stuff.  It's quite disheartening.  How can I defend a site that I myself haven't gotten to work right?  Even the ACA as a whole, people won't accept facts!  I've been told that it gives illegals free healthcare, which I shoot down and say isn't true.  I even point them to politifact and the likes when they tell me that.  They so okay, and then the next week they say the same darn thing!  How do you get through to people who won't take facts as facts?  

It's just way too much for me.  Even my more liberal friends have started bashing the ACA, saying their prices are going to go up.  Of course, they live in red states that didn't expand medicaid or do their own exchanges.  My state, Virginia, didn't do either one either.  I already looked, and get $217 a month in subsidies.  Looks like I'll only be paying about $20 a month out-of-pocket for my premiums, which is good for me!  

I really don't understand the hatred towards the law as a whole.  I can understand dislike of the website, as I can't get it to work right either, sadly.  Anyone else have the same problem with the sign & save step that I am having?

Originally posted to madmojo on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 05:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by Virginia Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  the rollout has been bad (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karl Rover, mconvente, ferg, JayBat, second gen

    but there's still a lot of time.  If we have a functioning website by November no one is going to care about a rough first month.  

    But yeah, it's been frustrating.  

  •  I saw a post in another article (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    madmojo, Sherri in TX

    that had a failure mode where a partial application seemed to never work, and the solution was to use a different email address.  (this is a crappy work-around and certainly not OK in the long run but if you don't feel like waiting it might work for you.  An email address for free is pretty easy to get, there are several options out there)

    I don't see why that would affect your use of the phone call-in system though.  Can't they set you up on the telephone?

    •  to be clear, the solution was to start over (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, Gooserock, DRo

      from scratch, using a new email address, and just abandon the old application entirely.

    •  I'll try this tomorrow. Thanks. (0+ / 0-)

      Sounds like something that might work.

      I'm not sure about the number I called.  That was the first week when things were really bad, and I think at that time, most of the navigators couldn't get on the site at all either.  

      •  No guarantees but (3+ / 0-)

        The symptom and solution are a failure mode I've seen before in my work.  If the problem still exists it is likely saving a partial registration but not properly restoring you to the right state of the registration or clearing it for a new registration.

        If so, it is a data problem (where it has your app flagged isn't where you actually are in the process), and it might only occur for people like you who were early adopters (they might have fixed the problem that caused it without cleaning up the data) so you might be a fairly unusual problem now, rather than a common one.

        Even so, the phone help should work even if the email address trick does not.  Either they'll just take your application directly on the phone (possibly entering your data themselves on a different admin-only screen which likely bypasses your problem or having IT sort it out by hand later, using more clunky, invasive means to whatever database has the problem), or they'll do some magic with privileges they have that you do not to either remove or correct the problem with your prior app (or kick it up to somebody who can, after getting enough info from you to get the job done).

        You did the right thing to wait out the early issues and keep trying.  It's tough to be an early adopter on a new technology, especially if you don't do it for a living.  But when the site behaves like a brick wall to you, that is the time to work with humans on the other end of a telephone.   You will likely need some patience with them too, but the best you can articulate and repeat your problem, the more likely it is they can help quickly.

        I'd recommend repeating the failure one last time before you call, so it is all fresh in your mind.  If you can take notes or even screenshots of the process and the exact errors you get (and when you get them) it will make the job of the person on the other end of the call much easier.

      •  Another thought (3+ / 0-)

        Down below, I advise waiting until November, and I still think that's good advice, but....

        A couple of things I've found.

        Some of the profile items that claim to be optional are not optional. SSID, for one. It's not surprising that is mandatory, but the form says "optional" so I left it off.  I think the system does not want to process an application if it does not think the profile is complete. This is just a guess.

        It really seems to be unhappy/confused if you have multiple web browser tabs/windows open into it at the same time.

        I still say "wait". :-)

        •  Required field highlighting is easy to miss (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          when testing because you KNOW it is there when you wrote the code.

          Especially if the thing that checks your form for all required fields was written by somebody else.

          It's nearly always a good idea to close all browsers on your computer and start with a fresh session too when dealing with a buggy web-form.  God knows what session variables might be in memory somehow confusing the site.

  • (5+ / 0-)

    I'm curious -- did you reach out to any navigators or assisters? I work for a legal aid organization and I'm steering clients in this direction until I hear the website is working better. I'm not sure how wide-spread the assistance is, but in our area, there are multiple, local agencies that can help people -- some on a walk-in basis. Glad you got it figured out. And I'm not embarrassed by a law that allowed you to get coverage for $20/month.

    •  I'm not embarrassed by the law itself. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, dsmmom, Susipsych

      I really like the law.  I've told many people how much I was paying with the subsidies included.  (They of course all laughed and said I must have got something wrong.  Told them I didn't.  Of course, then the conversation always turns to "But that's my money that's paying for those.")  

      It's just the website and it's problems that I can't stand.  Maybe I should wait until November to try it again?  The site is already much better than it was in it's first week.

    •  Where Do You Find a Navigator? (0+ / 0-)

      In my state, they have to have a navigator license, and there is no state website.  

      Has anybody actually gotten a navigator license?

  •  I haven't tried it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, JayBat

    We have our own website in California. It seems to work pretty well, but I haven't actually applied for a policy yet.

    "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

    by Demi Moaned on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 05:32:53 PM PDT

  •  Yeah, these complaints are a hurtful (6+ / 0-)

    I understand the frustration but this has just started. There are going to be bugs - huge ones in this case - and issues in the beginning. A lot of start-ups like this have issues. I'm sure the issues are being worked on to the best of everyone's ability.

    I think we should preach patience, tell whomever that this thing isn't going anywhere, and let them fix the problems. Instead of dumb things like calling for "heads to roll", why don't we press on the need to fix the issues as quickly as possible.

    •  bugs are when (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mickT, eglantine, Susipsych, codairem

      you can't set the clock to your timezone on your computer. But you can still do email and surf the net. With you cannot do the one thing people log onto it to do.

      That's a product failure.

      •  Damn those dropped cell calls! Grr... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        second gen, petesmom

        I wonder if you think that dropped cell phone calls mean that cellular technology is "Product failure".  

        I personally still hate cellphones, but I carry one everywhere I go.  

        Software programs are an extremely interdependent system.   Most programs cannot be tested thoroughly until they are live.

        Making up fake data and fake interactive program interfaces is extremely expensive and  nearly impossible to do well.

        As a lifelong programmer and system designer, I can assure you the users will do things you never thought of, and failures will happen that you could not foresee.

        Just ask yourself before you criticise:
          Does this need to be said?
          Does it need to be said by me?

      •  The website (0+ / 0-)

        is not the only way to sign up.

  •  It's a computer problem, not an Obamacare one. (8+ / 0-)

    Don't let wingnuts confuse them. And don't confuse them yourself.

    Dick Cheney 2/14/10: "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . UID: 8519

    by Bob Love on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 05:41:49 PM PDT

  •  Here's a programmers 2 cents on the rollout of the (8+ / 0-)


    Health and Human Services had no more than 3 years and 9 months to determine requirements, inventory what they had access to, what access was needed, build databases, agree to interface protocols (layouts, data content, locations, timing, pick ups and drop offs), design, code, and test a very large and very complicated system.

    I work for a very large, very public financial company.  They are extremely comfortable with the idea of taking at least 2 years to convert their hard copy print system from one vendor package to another.  They've even thought it was was to spend more than a year trying to decide what package to go with (and haven't yet).

    So, the gov't is expected to roll out an absolutely perfect, huge, and complex system in less time than a company will decide and implement a software package change???

  •  It's the nature of the beast (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    amsterdam, bobtmn, TexasTwister

    I work at a big research university, and even online systems that have existed for some time and are enlisted on a rolling basis--grant portals, benefits enrollment--are glitchy and temperamental and subject to ongoing revisions and patches and tech support.  That's part of operating in a big bureaucracy.  But a big research university does things that are not possible in another kind of school.  Big government can do things that no one else can.  That is heresy to Republicans, who will say to flush the whole damn bothersome thing.  But then there's no (start to) universal health care, or support for senior citizens after retirement, or safety regulation for workers, and on and on.  

    The Republican rap is that if it's not perfect it's not ready, so stop it.  But something this big and necessarily complex will never be perfect out of the gate--and then you have the Repub's real goal, which is to replace Obamacare with absolutely nothing forever.  Stay strong, and navigate through the BS.

  •  Defend yourself by calling out the dude (5+ / 0-)

    that filed the first brief against Obamacare.  If these bozoheads would have just supported this in the first place, you would have had coverage with no problems.  The dude I speak of is your Attorney General there in Virgina, Kenny boy Cuccinelli.  Give him the return favor and vote his stink ass out of there.

  •  Here's how I've been dealing with it (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jdsnebraska, petesmom, Chas 981, madmojo


    I was vociferous about Obamacare/the roll out at first. Now I figure let them have their fun. We'll have the last laugh when inevitably gets its act together.

    Until then I just turn a blind eye to every annoying Facebook post with the word "schadenfreude" in it.

  •  I'm registered in Virginia . . . (3+ / 0-)

    the first week registration wasn't available.

    Now I've created an account, but I can't search plans yet on the site.

    Truth is, it's not that big a deal for me since the insurance coverage isn't available until Jan. 1, 2014.  

    So long as the website issues are resolved prior to the end of the registration window -- December 15th -- I'm fine with being part of a de facto beta-testing process.

    In a pinch, I believe there may be an in-person registration system

  •  I finally got on today in IL and site does work. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nchristine, edwardssl, JamieG from Md

    It took 1/2 hour of registering, passwords, etc. Then you
    have to find input SS and answer some income questions to how much of a 'voucher' you can expect if you make less than 400% of the poverty line.
    Then you get an email so you can go on to the marketplace in your state/county.
    There were 47 plans available mostly Blue Cross, Aetna. The deductibles are pretty high. If you are never sick, then
    a premium of couple of hundred bucks a month may seem like a waste but you could always get sick or have an accident.
    This programs is for people whose employers don't offer insurance. If you are in poverty you go on Medicaid.

    The biggest drawback is the few number of providers.
    Also it has all the legalese annoyances of private insurance policies which is what you're buying.

    I wish it was Single Payer but it's better than nothing.

  •  application (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Susipsych, JamieG from Md

    I tried for 5 days to create an account that worked. I failed. I called their phone number and completed the application in 45 min. They are still having computer problems so they are having to mail me the insurance options.
    (Sometimes there are long waits to get though on the phone, I called at 8:00 AM this morning, no wait.)

  •  madmojo-- It would be best to wait a bit (2+ / 0-)

    As you already know, your new coverage is not going to start until 1/1/2014 anyway.

    My free advice (worth exactly what you paid for it!) is to go away and come back to in another 2-3 weeks. That will still give you plenty of time to get a full application in before (say) December 1st.

    It is true that is amazingly more cumbersome than (I live in Oregon). I had a set of budgetary quotes and a list of 40 policy options from 6 different providers 10 minutes after I decided to take a look at Sorry, I know that doesn't do you any good at all. Moving to Oregon is probably not a good short-term option. :-)

    I did a dummy Virginia request with (hey, I might move to Virginia next year!). I wound up in the same in-progress state that you apparently did.  I did live chat, they did not tell me to re-submit, they said to call the 800 number.  Under the circumstances, I decided to take my own advice and wait until November to check again.

    Hang in there, it'll be OK. You're motivated and intelligent

  •  Medicare for all (0+ / 0-)

    with 5% of the population (chosen at random based on zipcode) being added each month would have been comparatively speaking a cakewalk.

  •  The website is not the entire ACA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chas 981, JamieG from Md

    Try to calm down. Keep speaking out to the misinformed. Huge software projects, especially those like this one that have to link into (insurance company) "legacy" databases, etc, are almost certain to have rollout problems. You have been in the first two weeks of a three month sign up period. You have plenty of time left.

    Stay calm.

    Be patient.

    Keep trying.

    Go to the Kaiser Family Foundation website to get an idea of the cost of a Silver Plan including subsidies. That should make you feel better. You will have a choice of plans in Virginia.

    Remember that Virginia's Republicans HATED this plan and want it to fail. Do your part so that doesn't happen.

  •  So Take a Break (0+ / 0-)

    Come back in a month.  The law won't have changed, but the site will be fixed.

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