My Turn: Surprise! I signed up for health insurance and it worked!
As someone who recently signed onto the site and enrolled into a new, more affordable health insurance plan through the marketplace, I am certainly aware of the challenges with the new healthcare.gov website. Unfortunately, these problems are overshadowing the stories of people like me who are now able to buy health insurance at a reasonable cost.
Like many in New Hampshire, my husband and I are self-employed. Buying insurance on the open market has been very expensive. Both of us are currently enrolled in plans that are set to expire on Dec. 31, so I went to Healthcare.gov the first day it opened to buy coverage for 2014. After some initial technical challenges, healthcare.gov was actually easy.
Completing the application was straightforward, and I was surprised to discover that I qualify for a tax credit. Because my health insurance has always been so expensive, I didn’t have much hope that I’d be saving any money as a result of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, I had initially hoped to pay about the same. But based on our adjusted gross income, we qualified for a tax credit. I think many people in New Hampshire – including people like us who are self-employed and have had to pay so much toward insurance in the past – will find this to be a huge benefit.
When healthcare.gov gave me some technical challenges, I followed up with a call to the 800 number. Unlike most technical assistance call centers, a real person answered the phone and I was able to confirm that I was in fact enrolled. I also used the “live chat” help when I had a question about coverage. Again, it was very easy.
About two weeks later, I received my dental insurance information and cards to use when it begins on Jan. 1. My health insurance information is also on its way.
My total time on the computer was about an hour.
To me, that was time well spent. I pay more than $1,400 a month for my insurance now and, as high as that it is, it was going to increase on Jan. 1 without the Affordable Care Act.
As it is, when the New Year starts, I will be enrolled in an $870-per-month “gold” plan, a plan with slightly higher premiums but lower co-pays and deductible. This new plan will save us hundreds of dollars a month in health care costs.
My experience on Healthcare.gov was a positive one overall, but I do understand that for others it has been a frustrating struggle of logging in and waiting with little to show for it. I’m glad to hear there is a special technical team now at work to fix the problems.
What really concerns me is that in all the hoopla about the website’s technical problems, the fact that people like me finally have a chance to get good health insurance at a reasonable rate has been totally lost.
I believe that once the technical issues with Healthcare.gov are solved, most people will be happy with their experience.
For those who have yet to log in and are feeling frustrated, I urge you not to give up. If you get stuck, call 1-800-318-2596 24/7 for help.
You can also take time now to explore your options before you enroll.
Don’t dismiss this opportunity to get the health coverage you need.
(Deborah Lielasus lives in Portsmouth.)