Obamacare and I: The Conclusion (I hope)

Jack GoblinStarred Page By Jack Goblin, 4th Dec 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Managing Health Care

The end of my two month long struggle with the Affordable Care Act and my state's Insurance Exchange website

To Recap:

As mentioned in the previous articles in this series, I have spent the past two months using the Washington state Insurance Exchange website - aka WsIE, aka Washington Healthplanfinder - exploring the various medical insurance plans available to me under the Affordable Care Act. I have compared those insurance plans. I have dug into the details and fine print of the ones available to me. I have sought advice from a Navigator and an Insurance Broker, two groups set up under Obamacare to help people make decisions. And having done all this, I made my choice.

No job is finished before the paperwork is done

Then, having picked out a plan, it was time to try to apply for that plan using the Exchange. What follows is a recounting of the process involved. Naturally your own state Exchange or the Federal program may work somewhat differently. But I suspect they will all follow the same general pattern, and hopefully my experiences will be a helpful guide to those attempting to sign up via a website.

Before beginning, preparation is needed. Not only should you be clear ahead of time which plan you want, you should have the Social Security numbers of all family members, and their names, ages, and details. The system may well fluster you; don't rely on memory.You'll also need to dig out your 2012 (at least) income tax form because questions will be asked about your income and deductions.

If you intend to print out copies of the information you submit you'll need plenty of paper in your printer because there's going to be a lot of printing. And you'll need time. The Washington state Exchange worked perfectly but slowly for me, and it took two and a half hours to get through. If your Exchange is worse, it might be better to file a paper application.

The Paperwork

First came the setting up of an account on the WsIE. This involved providing the expected data (name, address, SSN), and also some demographic information. Then came identification verification. It was just four multiple choice questions, but it was a bit... disturbing... to be asked things involving where I had worked and lived, where I live now, and what credit cards I had or didn't. I'd prefer anonymous people didn't know all this about me...

Once it was determined I was who I said I was, then details were asked about my situation: Who was being covered, were we all U.S. and Washington state citizens, did anyone use tobacco products, did I or anyone I was applying for insurance for have any long term crippling disabilities or terminal conditions, etc etc. I also was asked to provide data about my sources of income (this is where the 2012 tax return came in) and how much I made in a year, and what deductions I could claim.

After this, I was given the chance to look over all information I'd put in, then approve an Electronic Signature saying everything was correct and the WsIE could seek proof of this. I submitted the approval, waited and waited, and waited and waited... and finally was told my account was valid and I could go ahead and apply for a plan.

Buying a Policy

I have to say, this part had been rather stressful. The news is full of stories of people using the Federal Exchange or the exchanges of other states who try repeatedly to get an account, only to have the system freeze at some point and they have to stop. I kept waiting for the WsIE to do the same. But although it was slow to a painful degree, it didn't stop, we just kept chugging along. And once my account was set up, the rest went fast.

I knew which plan I wanted. I used the WsIE's Selection process to bring the plan up and clicked "Buy". The system told me how much the premium was. Then it told me how much of a tax credit I would be getting if my income was too close to the poverty line, and that I could use that credit to either decrease the amount of the monthly premium or as a reduction in my payment when I filed my income taxes for the year.

I agreed to all the Terms and Conditions and the website asked for the first month's premium in advance, payable via credit card or e-check. I should have checked to see if you could use Paypal; but at that point I was suffering serious mental fatigue and just gave them my credit card number. They took it, there was another long, agonizing pause... and at last came the welcome news that the process was done, I was enrolled in the plan I wanted, and I could finally relax.

Suspense

Except that I'd have to wait a day or two for final confirmation that all my facts checked out and my enrollment was valid.

This added a nice little bit of prolonged suspense. Finally, Sunday morning, I logged into the Washington Healthplanfinder website and was told yes, I was eligible for the plan and I would be covered 1-1-2014.

Conclusion

Having scaled the mountain, so to speak, I don't have any words of wisdom to impart beyond what I've already said. Do your homework, make sure you know about 'deductibles' and 'co-pays' and all those things that can really come back to bite you, before you try to enroll. Study the plans available carefully ahead of time and pick out the one most suited to your family's needs and circumstances.

Have all your facts and data ready before you start; and when you do start, go forward as fast as you can without making mistakes. Try to use the website during off hours, like early in the morning or very late at night, when the fewest number of people will be on line stressing the system. And if nothing else works, find a Navigator or a Broker and have them do the application, filling out paper forms if need be.

Obamacare may be a disaster or an opportunity. But either way, it IS possible to get through the sign up process. One way or another.

Good luck.


Links to previous articles in this series

Obamacare and I: Day One


Obamacare and I: A week into the process



Obamacare and I: One month (and a few weeks) into the process.

Tags

Affordable Care Act, Insurance Broker, Insurance Exchange, Medical Insurance, Navigator, Obamacare, Washington, Washington State

Meet the author

author avatar Jack Goblin
Was born. Haven't died yet. Don't intend to anytime soon.

Thank you much for reading my articles. I hope they brought you pleasure and enlightenment. :)

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Comments

author avatar Phyl Campbell
5th Dec 2013 (#)

I am relieved for you!! You are the first blogger I've been following who's gotten through. Your attention to details on this is probably what made your insurance acquisition successful. Good job on both!!

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
5th Dec 2013 (#)

Interesting post!

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author avatar joyalariwo
5th Dec 2013 (#)

so much paperwork, well I hope it works for you in the end.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
5th Dec 2013 (#)

It wasn't easy but it worked for you. So glad to hear that. Thanks so much for sharing valuable advice that may help other people who sign up.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
5th Dec 2013 (#)

very informative this... so many thanks and congratulations...
somewhere I saw not to go on the obamacare website which I wont because I have Anthem coverage...

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