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After a Month of Trying, I Still Can't Sign Up for Obamacare

9:51 AM, Dec 26, 2013 • By IKE BRANNON
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After a month of trying, I still can't complete an application to join the D.C. Health Exchange. For a week, the Obamacare marketplace asked me to prove my citizenship, my daughter's existence, and my fixed address in the District of Columbia, but it would not allow me to submit the requested material.

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That changed, slightly, yesterday when it started allowing me to submit those things, which I did, but it must now validate them via a person. Perhaps this is why Barack Obama’s staff had to physically visit the D.C. exchange in order to sign up the president for Obamacare.

It also apparently keeps losing all of my family's personal information, so I’m having to type my name, address, Social Security number, as well as a) a fixed address or b) whether I’m incarcerated or c) or whether am a member of an American Indian or native Alaskan federally protected tribe. 

And despite selecting "send me all messages via email" it doesn't actually do that—the messages just sit in my account at the D.C. exchange, which tells me when I log in that I have a message there. Which I can't read because when I click on it my computer asks me to select a program to use to access whatever it is and no matter what I select it just displays a bunch of random characters. Word, WordPerfect, Microsoft reader, and PDF are not helping with this—but why would they use that sort of program for a message like that?

But it’s not all bad. What I like is that I can access the D.C. exchange in twenty different languages, including Apache, Navajo, and Irish. Which is great because I see so many Irish here who have a heck of a time assimilating, what with the fact that they only speak Irish and not the King's English. (You can also receive notices in American Sign Language—l'd make a joke here but I might offend the deaf. But I guess since they can't read and need American Sign Language I might as well let one rip. But I'll refrain nevertheless.)

Maybe we should blame the federal government for this, but last time I looked (and at one point it was my job to do so) a government entity was only responsible for providing assistance in a foreign language if there was a significant number of people who spoke that language and had no facility with English. Of course, we can all quibble about what "significant" means in this context, but does anyone believe that it is at all conceivable that there are even ten people in the District who speak only Apache and need to buy their own health insurance? I would bet my entire net wealth that the number is, in fact, lower than that, if not zero. Ditto for Navajo and Irish. If there's anyone in D.C. shopping for health insurance who speaks only German or French and no English I'd be shocked as well. 

But while the exchange doesn't work, at least we can get our messages telling us our application has been "disposed of" in the language of our choice, although to be honest I do not know at all what this message means and English is my mother tongue. Does it mean that I have insurance? I doubt that since I never got to select a plan. Or that I've been approved to buy a plan? if so why won't it let me do so.

It's tough to be a bureaucrat—I know, I tried my hand at it once and failed miserably. But some bureaucrat somewhere decided to spend a few dollars more to make sure those oppressed Irish or the benighted Apache could access our exchange in their native language, and that decision meant there were a few less dollars available to make sure this thing would actually work. 

Obeisance to some banal multicultural diktat isn't costless, and since I'm mad as hell about having wasted a good chunk of a month on this dysfunctional website and can't find an obvious villain, I will hold in enmity whoever decided that the Navajo and the Irish needed to be able to navigate the D.C. Health Exchange in their native tongue, and condemn the system that concluded it was a necessary thing to do. 

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