ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Government Healthcare Website Problems: My Obamacare Story

Updated on December 18, 2014

Background Story

My husband is a self-employed North Carolina attorney. I am the stay at home mother of three young children. For the last three and a half years, we have been responsible for finding our own insurance. The most major provider in our state is Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. It also happens to be the only company on the Healthcare Exchange for my county.

Traditionally, the open enrollment period for BCBS insurance is November 1 - 30. Every year, I have tweaked my family's low-premium, high-deductible plan, either to include maternity, remove maternity, add a child, or to see if I can lower our out of pocket costs.

In 2013, it cost my healthy family of five about $550 a month for a 100% wellness covered, $3500 deductible, 60/40 plan.

I'll be honest. By all accounts, this to me was affordable. Once the Affordable Healthcare Act went into effect however, remaining on our current plan for 2014 was going to raise our premiums almost $100 a month. This plan also does not include maternity coverage. With plans to have another baby this year, we were looking at paying close to $800 a month out of pocket for free wellness checkups and vaccines; a baby could cost as much as another $6500.

This no longer sounded affordable.

Attempt 1: Getting on the Healthcare Website

Of course the first thing I did in mid-October was access the government healthcare website and fill out an application. Trying not to worry about putting the social security numbers of myself and four other family members out there on the world wide web, in total, the application took me about an hour to fill out. This includes approximately twenty minutes of typing and mouse clicks, and about forty minutes of waiting for pages to load.

I know I was not alone here.

Of course, like everyone else, when I came to the "Sign and Submit" page, nothing happened. When I re-logged in to my account, my otherwise complete application was listed as "in progress."

After listening to all the horror stories on the news, I decided to give it a month and try again.

Attempt 2: Calling the 800 Number

I had heard that of the 4% of people who had experienced success "getting through" most had done their applications on the phone with a government healthcare representative.

One Friday morning while my children were at school, I spent exactly 97 minutes verbally dictating each letter of every single piece of application information over the phone.

Nevermind that all of my children are under the age of 7. This representative (I assume) was required to read every single question, including "Has this child lived with a foster parent over the age of 18?" (Well, considering she is not yet 18, could we just go ahead and mark "no" on that one?)

The woman was abundantly polite and kind. I will give her that. But it was little better than dictating myself to a robot. Again. 97 minutes.

At the end of this application she read me a four-minute "congratulations" speech about my application going through. I was supposed to wait for something to come in the mail. At this point, I was still relatively unfamiliar with the entire process, so I did not even think about the fact that I had marked the "send my results to email" box at the beginning of the application.

I waited three weeks. Nothing came in the mail.

Attempts 3-76: Doing Whatever it Takes to Get Through

When nothing came in the mail, I called the number back. I explained that I had completed my application on the phone and received a "congratulations" recitation. The man on the phone explained that my application had an "uncoded" error message and he would escalate it for further review. I was to wait three to five business days for a phone call.

In four business days, I called back.

Nothing about my application had changed. The person on the phone saw no error message. My application was simply sitting there "in progress."

I got on the Internet and Googled a bit, trying to find others like me. I was seeking any information that might help me get my family signed up for healthcare with subsidies for 2014. With the deadline quickly approaching, I started to sink into panic-mode.

In no particular order here are some of the things I have done:

  • open a completely new account and start over on the website
  • access the website from Safari, Firefox, and/or Google Chrome
  • clear my cache, cookies, and browsing history and go through my application online again
  • call and have the representative go through my existing application to get it to submit at the end
  • pray
  • call and talk to one representative, get nowhere, hang up, and call back immediately to see if what another representative says is different (it is every time)
  • have the representative "remove" old applications
  • attempt to "delete" old applications (the one that reads STATUS:COMPLETE for the phone-representative's eyes only has been deleted several times but now will not disappear)
  • call or access the website at various times of the day (including first thing in the morning East Coast time and in the middle of the night)

At one point, I had three open applications all of which read STATUS: IN PROGRESS.

Some days, I called the healthcare line and the computers were down on their end. Some days I called the healthcare line and the computers crashed in the middle of attempting to solve my problem. Some of my representatives were thinkers, and didn't ask all the redundant questions multiple times. Others were rule-followers and read every single word to me even though I'm pretty sure I now have the entire application memorized. One particularly energetic representative, named Rick, gave me updates on the weather in Idaho and talked about his online dating profile while we waited for each page to load.

Still, no dice.


Things you will need:

  • a phone
  • a social security number
  • a full bottle of whiskey
  • a script of 3-4 simple request sentences
  • a hammer or a nearby wall

What to do:

  • Take a shot of whiskey
  • Call local office
  • Take a shot of whiskey
  • Press 1, then 2, then 1
  • Take a shot of whiskey
  • Read from your script
  • Take a shot of whiskey
  • Read from your script
  • Take a shot of whiskey
  • Read from your script
  • Take a shot of whiskey
  • Use hammer or wall in whatever way feels best

Success at Last?

On Sunday, December 8th, 2013, I called the healthcare number.

The woman who answered the phone informed me again that I had three applications open, and asked which one did I want to use.

I said, "Listen, all three of those applications have errors. Have you actually successfully signed anyone up, all the way through, today?"

She said yes, she had signed up two people already that day.

I said, "Are you a woman of faith? Because I am a woman of faith. And right now, I'm going to put all my faith into your magic fingers and see if I can't be success story number three for you today." I then asked her if she could take me through a completely new application from start to finish.

Ninety-seven minutes later I hear these words, "Okay Mrs. Wait, I'm hitting Sign and Submit…and now...would you like me to read you your subsidy offer?"

These were new words.

I started crying right there on the phone.

After reading us our subsidy package for our family of five, she asked if she could go ahead and get us enrolled in a plan. The tears continued to flow.

Now mind you, I could not actually see any of the plans she was reading to me. I could not get online and type in my application number and see the same screen she was seeing. I simply had to listen to my options and choose. Despite the fact that she had very little working knowledge of the actual meaning of "no deductible," and continually confused the letters "M" and "N," I was not letting this lady off the phone.

Though we have never been able to actually view with an option to choose any of the online plans available to us, we finally chose what we believed to be the best, knowing we are not locked in until we make our first payment. Her final words were, "Okay, I am enrolling five people in the Blue Advantage Gold 1000 for a total price of $235 a month."

This number sounded ridiculously low, but I this point, I actually felt like I'd earned it.

Knowing full well this might be the last time I ever had access to this particular application, at the end of enrollment I asked her to give me the application number. She was unable to go back and access the page containing the number because just then, the website froze on her end.

It Isn't Over

My head cleared and my anxiety settled for about two days. I did call and get that application number, though the representative that day was unable to actually open the application and see anything on it.

Even with the application number, we still could not access any of our information online. If we logged in to the website, all we could see were our three "IN PROGRESS" applications. I wasn't fully trusting anything until I heard from BCBS that they had our information from the Marketplace and we were in line for enrollment.

I received a notice from BCBS in the mail about five days later.

It had my name and my husband's name listed, but none of my three children.

Back to the drawing board.

A phone call to Blue Cross resulted in the direction to call the Marketplace back.

So begins another week of back-and-forth phone calls with one-eight-hundred-healthcare-dot-gov. In the first three attempts, none of the representatives could access our application. They could see it listed, but could not click on it.

Finally one morning I got through and was given this message: It says here your children might be eligible for Medicaid so they cannot get on a subsidized plan. This was not told to us the day we enrolled.

What was not said was this:

  • "Might" be eligible also means "might not."
  • Enrollment in the Marketplace does not equal enrollment in Medicaid.
  • Whether or not my children qualify for Medicaid, in the holding period, they do not qualify for our family subsidy. Despite the fact that I offered to pay for my kids' healthcare, the representative was not allowed (or able) to override the "Medicaid caveat" and put my kids on my plan.
  • I will need to fill out a separate application for my children at my county Medicaid office, and the wait time for review is currently standing at 45 days.

By my count, this will put us over the January 1st deadline.


Here is where I currently stand, now eight days away from the enrollment deadline.

My husband and I are on a list with Blue Cross Blue Shield to have our information processed and our new cards and an invoice sent in the mail. When that comes, we will have an opportunity to make our first payment and lock ourselves into our new plan.

The average hold-time to get a Blue Cross Blue Shield representative on the phone right now is about sixty-seven minutes. (Apparently everyone is hitting the panic-button right about now.)

We've requested our children to be grandfathered over on our current plan, so that come January 1, they are not uninsured. We do not have an ACA compliant plan, because the cheapest plan with the smallest network and highest deductible was still going to cost us about $130 a person. Keeping our kids on the plan we had for 2013 required splitting them into three individual plans (because mom and dad are no longer listed) and will cost us about $275 total. Again, I consider that affordable.

I will be turning in my Medicaid application for my children. If they qualify, I will be the woman in the 2012 Honda Odyssey and Coach boots receiving free government healthcare for my three children.

If they do not qualify, I will be updating you shortly on what it takes to "appeal" your government healthcare subsidy offer. Stay tuned.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)