Since Oct. 1–the official kick off of signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act–I’ve probably visited the HealthCare.gov website several dozen times. In the attempt to learn more about health care options available to West Virginians, I tried to create a profile for about a first week.
I didn’t get any where and lost interest.
Later in the month, I returned and was able to create a profile. However, as I posted last week, there was a problem: I log in, and my home screen is blank. There is a “Get Insurance” tab, but when I click it I am logged out of my profile, leading to a frustrating cycle with no insurance information.
So today, I decided to see if I could fix the problem with the help of the “live chat” feature.
Just click the link at the bottom of the page, and you’re able to apparently interact with an ACA techie.
First, let me say I am legitimately interested in finding out health care options for West Virginians. And there are other ways to start the healthcare sign-up process. Also, you should read this post from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy that asserts almost everyone in the state will be able to keep their plans until at least the end of 2014.
With that, here’s the transcript from my chat. I’m “CALLER” and “Jay” is the techie. Italics added for emphasis:
[11:50:21 am]: Thanks for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. Please wait while we connect you to someone who can help. [11:50:26 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people. [11:50:35 am]: Welcome! You’re now connected to Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat.
Thanks for contacting us. My name is Jay. To protect your privacy, please don’t provide any personal information, like Social Security Number, or any other sensitive medical or personal information.
[11:50:52 am]: Jay Hello, how may I assist you? [11:51:36 am]: CALLER Hi, I’m in West Virginia and I’m having trouble looking at any insurance plans on the website [11:51:57 am]: CALLER I can log in to my account, but after I log in the screen is essentially blank [11:52:19 am]: CALLER I click on the “get insurance” tab, which logs me out of my account [11:52:56 am]: Jay Sometimes the pop-up blocking software that is installed on your computer can cause you difficulty in viewing certain information on the Internet. Turning off your pop-up blocker may allow you to see the information you are having trouble accessing. [11:53:31 am]: Jay Firefox Select “Tools” or “Firefox – Preferences” at the top of the browser, select “Content,” and uncheck “Block Pop-up Windows.” [11:54:52 am]: CALLER Did that. Screen is still blank [11:56:09 am]: Jay Please log out and try tyo log back in. [11:57:02 am]: CALLER Yep did that too. Nothing. [11:57:59 am]: Jay Thank you for your interest in the Marketplace and for sharing your feedback. We apologize for any technical difficulties you may be experiencing as you use HealthCare.gov. We know this can be frustrating, and we’re working around the clock to improve HealthCare.gov and to make sure your experience with it is a positive one.
I will make a note of your feedback. In the meantime, if you would like, We can help you fill out an application right now over the phone.
[11:58:30 am]: Jay You also have the option to complete a paper application. I can either mail one to you, or you can print an online copy by:
2.Selecting “Get official resources”
3.Selecting “View more” under publications & articles
4.You can then choose the application that best fits your needs under “Marketplace Consumer Application”
[11:59:02 am]: CALLER It’s my understanding the information I provide over the phone must be entered online, through this same website? That’s true, right? [11:59:51 am]: Jay Yes, but they have a few more tools available to them. [12:00:09 pm]: CALLER Really? [12:01:17 pm]: CALLER So if I call I can get signed up right away? [12:01:28 pm]: Jay We are available to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach us toll free at 1-800-318-2596. [12:02:28 pm]: CALLER Sorry, just want to make sure I understand. The access to the “tools” you mentioned means if I call, I can sign up for a plan right away? [12:04:22 pm]: Jay In most cases yes. You also have local, in- person help available to you in your area. Would you like some information about that too? [12:05:23 pm]: CALLER The in-person assisters? Yes, I’m familiar with the assistance program. [12:06:35 pm]: CALLER I’m still confused though: if I call, or talk to someone in person here in West Virginia, the person on the phone or the in-person assister can sign me up using tools that I personally can’t access? [12:06:43 pm]: Jay Would you like to know about the locations in your area? [12:07:12 pm]: CALLER I’m familiar with the locations; hospitals, health department facilities, etc right? [12:07:36 pm]: Jay You can complete your application on the phone right now. [12:08:45 pm]: Jay To complete the application, you’ll need information for each member of your household, like date of birth; Social Security numbers; and income information from W-2s, pay stubs, or federal tax returns. [12:09:39 pm]: CALLER Wait, again, I thought the person could take down my information for the application but had to actually enter that information into the website? Is that not right? [12:10:33 pm]: Jay That is very true. [12:11:19 pm]: CALLER Ok. [12:11:24 pm]: CALLER Well, thank you for the information, I appreciate it. [12:11:40 pm]: Jay You are welcome. [12:11:50 pm]: Jay Do you have any other questions that I can help you with? [12:12:13 pm]: CALLER Any idea when the information can actually be entered into the system? [12:13:08 pm]: Jay You mean if you are doing it of your own online? [12:14:02 pm]: CALLER Or if a person on the phone/in-person assister is filling in the online portion of the application. [12:15:38 pm]: Jay On the phone you can do it anytime. It is open 24/7 [12:16:17 pm]: Jay We are available to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach us toll free at 1-800-318-2596. Hearing impaired callers using TTY technology can reach us at 1-855-889-4325. In addition to English and Spanish, we can provide assistance in a number of languages through an interpretation service. We are closed on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. [12:16:17 pm]: CALLER Ok, well, thanks for your time. [12:16:28 pm]: Jay Thank you for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. We are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. [12:16:49 pm]: ‘Jay’ has left the chat session. [12:16:53 pm]: Your chat session is over. Thanks for contacting us, and we hope we’ve answered your questions. Have a great day. [12:16:53 pm]: 11/8/2013