I asked for information on buying insurance through the exchanges. He asked if I’d set up an account online. I said I hadn’t, that I was wondering if I could apply over the phone or if the representative could mail me a paper application. He said that he could mail me a paper application but that even so at some point I’d have to go online to create an account.
I was about to ask what people without computers were supposed to do (they do exist) when he offered me another option: I could go to a center and speak with someone in person who would help me. I expressed interest and asked that he tell me where the nearest center was. The following dialogue ensued:
Representative: What is your phone number?
Me, thinking: Hmm. There are these things called “cell phones” these days so anyone who uses phone number rather than zip code as a proxy for location is stupid. Then again, I have read that the Obamacare system is 20-year-old technology. What the heck. He probably already has my phone number. In fact, this is the 21st Century - he must have that. Maybe he’s just trying not to be creepy with the whole Big Brother is watching thing.
Me: 555-555-5555. [No, not really. I actually give him my real phone number.]
Representative: Can I have your last name?
Me, thinking: Wait. What?
Me: Why do you need my last name to tell me where to find the nearest service center?
Representative: I need your last name and first name. The system won’t let me proceed unless I enter it.
Me, thinking: Enter it where? What system? WTF?
Me: No, thank you. Not interested. Bye.
And thus endeth my interface with the ObamaCare phone system. Please don’t bother to tell me that Representative was wrong, that I can enroll over the phone or by paper or find a service center without giving my name. I’m well aware Representative may be wrong. But you go to ObamaCare with the Representative you have, not with the Representative you want. If he is wrong, that’s not an argument that ObamaCare is better than it appears from my experience; it’s an argument that ObamaCare is worse.
I’ve have resolved to not go near any part of the ObamaCare exchanges (online, phone, or service center - assuming I could find one) until November. The anniversary date on my current policy isn’t until the Spring so I have some time.
In somewhat happier news, I’m pretty sure I can buy health insurance directly from my current carrier, without going through the exchanges. At first glance, it looks like I can get a policy that will cost about the same as the one I have now but with much higher out-of-pocket costs. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am about that. Seriously thrilled about knowing I won’t have to choose between using the exchanges and going without coverage. Sarcastically thrilled about getting less for my money.