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I've Been Trying Since November—But I Still Can't Sign Up for Obamacare

9:01 AM, Feb 7, 2014 • By IKE BRANNON
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Despite my earnest intentions, my family and I are still not covered on the Washington, D.C. Obamacare exchange. I am beginning to despair that I will ever obtain insurance from the exchange.


To briefly recap my ordeal (you can read my previous piece here) I went to the D.C. Health Link web page in early November to sign up my family. It was not as straightforward as I anticipated: The first few times I tried to enter the names and vitals for my wife and children the web site either locked up or otherwise failed to store that information anywhere. Typing 4 names, birthdays, and social security numbers became a daily exercise for me. At least I have my family's social security numbers memorized now. 

Finally, after Thanksgiving, my name, ID, and family information were on file and I could proceed. I had to answer further questions about my family and then submit several pieces of evidence to show that I was, in fact, a D.C. resident, that my children did exist, and that my wife (a foreign national) was a legal resident. 

I submitted that information, although the first 3 or 4 times the web page crashed and wouldn't let me upload anything. Finally, however, I got my documents into the system and I was told they'd be verified soon and after that I'd be allowed to buy insurance.

Three weeks go by and I hear nothing, and when I log in to the exchange website it merely informs me that my information will soon be verified. I began calling the Health Link, who merely told me that they're a little behind on the verifying but that they'd do it before January 1. 

I knew better and called a broker who's tasked with being a facilitator for people like me. She informed me that no one will verify my information unless we call. She starts calling and emailing on my behalf and she discovers they still do not have my family's information on file. 

She goes around and around and finally, on New Year's Eve, they tell her that while I don't have insurance yet and they haven't been able to verify my information, I will be granted insurance for January, once they process my paperwork. 

My facilitator and I again call regularly, to no avail, until I received a message on my answering machine on January 14 from D.C. Health Link: they have processed my information and I just need to call Carefirst by 6 p.m. the next day and I'll be set. 

So I call, and hold for an hour 45 minutes, and talk to a Carefirst agent, who informs me that D.C. Health Link had not, in fact, sent over the appropriate information, and that I was out of luck for January. 

Which was fine: it was a month, no one in the family broke a leg, the full price on our prescriptions weren't that outrageous (a scant $350), so we soldiered on.

The next two weeks consisted of regular calls to D.C. Health Link—who told me without exception they will send my case to their supervisor to follow up—and Carefirst, who continued to tell me D.C. Health Link has not, in fact, followed up and sent them what they need for me to get insurance. 

On January 31, my broker/facilitator gives me the name of the supervisor she has talked to. I email her, and she says they sent over the information--on January 14. Carefirst has such a long wait time over the phone I am kicked off the circuit and told to call back Monday. 

If this is resolved by February 15 they tell me I will be covered for the month: that seems to me to be a sucker's bet. 

While I thought this was bad policy, I figured it would be good for my family, since I am now self-employed and we have some pre-existing conditions that made our insurance costly. It may still work out that way, if I ever managed to purchase insurance. 

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