Tuesday, October 15, 2013

John's Adventures at Healthcare.Gov

Chapter 1 -- Down the Sign-Up Hole

It all started on an October afternoon. I wanted to see for myself what all the ruckus was about. Surely, finding out what it would cost to sign my family up for the Affordable Care Act (ACA, PPACA, ObamaCare) could not be too hard. After all, I am reasonably computer savvy. I understand health care and health insurance better than the average person. My IQ tests to which I was subjected in childhood and early adulthood suggest that I am at least as intelligent as the average American.

My first task was to select a username and password. That I recall, each was required to be between 6 and 70 characters -- quite a range, I would say. I chose a pretty unique username of 20 characters containing an assortment of letters, numbers, and the dreaded special characters. The system told me that this username was already taken. I tried another one of 21 characters. The system told me that one was already taken. I tried one of 34 characters created randomly by banging on the keyboard of my laptop with my eyes closed until I was satisfied. This one, too, was already taken.

At this point, I screamed that word that one screams when one does not believe what has happened. You know the word. It starts with a B and ends with a T and has a total of 8 letters. Assuming that my characters were chosen fairly well at random, the odds of this username being a duplicate were approximately 1 in 36 raised to the 34th power. Excel tells me that this is a 53 digit number.

A few minutes passed and my e-mail inbox greeted me. The Health Insurance Marketplace informed me that my username and password had been accepted. The key question was which one.

Chapter 2 -- My Own Pool of Tears

I wanted to cry. I'm not sure if they were tears of joy or frustration. Finally, I decided they were tears of laughter. I clicked on the verification link and there it was: healthcare.gov was instructing me to log in. And, believe it or not, one of my log-ins was working.

I began to enter data. I chose Georgia, this having been my state of residence for more than 25 years now. I told the system some stuff about me.

I'm curious. Why does it ask if I am of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish heritage? The question after that asks me for my race. Why not save a question and just ask my race? Obviously, I am missing something. And, in order to insure me, why does healthcare.gov need to know my race anyway?

Chapter 3 -- Chasing My Tale

The system asked me for my Social Security Number and for the name on my Social Security card. I typed it in.

Wrong, you idiot.

The system said there is no such person.

Well, I was looking at my Social Security Card while doing this. I held one next to the other and I was not wrong. So I tried again. Failure. Alas, the third time was a charm. I guess whoever said it was correct. Try, try, and try again.

Then I had to do the same things for my other family members. Just out of curiosity, what happens if you don't have some of this information handy?

Finally, all of the required information was entered for all of my family members. As you must after each tidbit of information that you enter, I clicked on "Save and Continue."


No, of course not. I clicked again ... and again ... and again. No luck.

So, I logged out and logged back in. And, I had the same problem. And, I tried it another day. And, again I had the same problem. So, I cannot tell you yet what will happen in Chapter 4 -- Obamacare Sends a Bill.

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