Adventures In Obamacare

Correction: The small business requirement applies to businesses over 50 full time employees, not 30.  This requirement has been delayed until January 1st, 2015. The 30 is the number of hours an employee has to work to be considered a full time employee.

I am one of the approximately 20% of the population that can take advantage of the new health exchanges that came into being to much fanfare and gnashing of teeth on October 1st.  This is my story.

As an owner of a small business well under the 30 50 employee level which Obamacare mandates companies offer insurance, I purchase health insurance for myself on the open market.  If I so chose, I could continue on my current health plan which I am assuming would equate to a platinum type plan on the health exchange.  But that would be no fun.  I currently pay about $250 a month for a fairly comprehensive $5,000 deductible plan.  Let’s see how the health exchanges stack up.

I live in Illinois.  Our state has decided to allow the federal government to control the health exchange signup procedure for anyone living in Illinois.  This means that I go to www.healthcare.gov to sign up on the exchange.  I attempted to do so on October 1st when the exchanges first opened and was met with a page telling me that the site was really busy and, if I just waited there in the virtual line, they will redirect me to the signup page as soon as possible.  After an indeterminate amount of time, I decided to try again some other time.  News reports were that people were waiting up to 3 hours to get past that screen.  Since I had until January 1st, I decided to let them shake out the bugs and the onrush and try again later.

Today, October 5th, is later.  I was once again met with the virtual please wait here message.  This time, though, I was ushered in to the ‘Create An Account’ page after only a minute or so of playing mindless Flash games.  Creating an account is fairly painless.  The website itself is fairly snazzy.  There are some bugs and I seemed to have to reenter the same information quite a few times, but eventually I was able to create an account and do the usual e-mail verification to get the account activated.

After that, you need to be able to verify your identity.  The website contracts with Experian to verify your identity, but Experian was unable to do so for me.  This is not an unusual occurrence for me.  I blame the hyphen in my name and bad coding.  As an alternative way of verifying my identity, I was able to scan and attach a copy of my driver’s license and let them verify me that way.  Unfortunately, this takes human intervention.  So now I wait.

Without proving that it’s me, I can’t yet choose a health plan.  Given that it’s the weekend, I don’t expect the verification to happen until Monday at the earliest.  I’ll post more about my adventures once I am me.

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