Our U.S. correspondent Tomas Mega, from Nevada, chronicles giving Obamacare a try since it first went operational on Oct. 1st 2013.
My anticipation has been building for weeks. Truthfully, I haven’t been this keen about something since I discovered on-line dating. I am one of the 19 million Americans who buy their health insurance privately, at high rates, and today, October 1, I would be able to access the Nevada state Obamacare website. The President promised me I would now have access to affordable health care and I am eager over the prospects of having some extra cash in my pocket. If ‘RomanceAt60.com’ doesn’t deliver, Obamacare might save me some money to give ‘SeniorLove.com’ a try.
Nevada is one of only 17 states that decided to set up their own health care exchange for Obamacare, despite our Republican governor Brian Sandoval opposing it. Mr. Sandoval is also Hispanic. With Nevada having over 25% of its residents uninsured and a Hispanic population approaching 27%, our handsome Governor’s vast popularity begins with being a practical man. Tea party folks should take note.
There is also the prospect that Nevada is leading the way in the development of its Obamacare site. Initial media reports are positive and Nevada always does very well when it comes to managing the expectations of people who want value, anonymity, fun, and a positive individual experience. Just ask Prince Harry.
I too like to think I’m a practical man, and my instincts tell me not to sign on to the site today. There is no point in fighting the initial heaving of people. There are bound to be glitches and I cannot bear the thought of seeing “Internet explorer is unable to display the website” flashed across my laptop.
October 18, 2013
Two plus weeks have passed since the Nevada Obamacare site went live. My decision to wait has proved sound. Americans across the country have been pummelled with “Internet explorer is unable to display the website” messages since October 1. Republicans are jubilant. Maybe things are better now, so today I will give it a go.
Understanding the challenge ahead of me, I prepare myself mentally. I make a pot of coffee. I run my ‘disk clean’ software, defragment my hard drive, blow the dust out of my keyboard, change the ink cartridges in my printer, check my cable hook-ups and run my antivirus software – twice. I decide there is nothing I can do about the NSA sneaking a look, but I’m ready to partake in Obamacare.
Accessing the Nevada site is easy. Creating an account is easy. For a moment I think I must be doing something wrong. And then I find a problem. The Spanish version of the website is being delayed. Our Governor isn’t going to like this.
I input all of my vital data that the website requests and nervously click on ‘enter’. This is it – the moment the system will proudly display the various health plans available to me, along with their cost, and whether I can qualify for a government subsidy.
Then horror sets in. “THIS PAGE CANNOT BE DISPLAYED” materializes on my screen. Somewhere, NSA spies, along with Republicans, are laughing, I am sure of it. Twenty minutes of repeated attempts to refresh the page prove futile. My attempts to go back a page, re-enter my data, and hit enter again are ineffective. Worse, my pot of coffee is nearly gone. My hands are beginning to shake. I better wait before brewing another pot. I’m going to walk the dog.
It’s now one hour later, and the dog and I are both refreshed. Let’s try this again.
“YOU’VE BEEN SIGNED OUT DUE TO INACTIVITY ON YOUR ACCOUNT.” What? Why? You told me the page cannot be displayed! I’m not responsible for my inactivity – you are! The thought of writing a future column on the merits of Senator Ted Cruz passes through my mind, but I quickly dismiss it.
I sign in again and start over. My freshly brewed pot is now decaffeinated. I don’t want to risk my health over this.
The system is ‘intelligent.’ It knows I’ve done something and gives me the option to “Resume your application where you left off.” That sounds reasonable, so I continue. It has even saved the data I input on my last attempt. I’m encouraged, and click on ‘enter’: “THIS PAGE CANNOT BE DISPLAYED.”
I shake my head in disbelief. I’ve entered the Obamacare equivalent of the Twilight Zone. For a President who used the internet so effectively in winning two elections, I wonder aloud how, after more than two weeks, this thing can still be so screwed up. Republicans should definitely stop trying to defund Obamacare because the President and Democrats are doing a much better job of it.
Time is passing, and the dog wants to go out again. But I suppose I’m fortunate. My current health provider is allowing me to keep my existing insurance, with a 5% premium increase for 2014. In the American world of health care coverage, that’s good. Maybe it’s not such a bad deal. According to media reports in Nevada, for someone my age to get a lower monthly cost through Obamacare, my annual deductable would likely triple. That means my out of pocket cost in 2014 would triple versus 2013 if I need health care, before an Obamacare plan would start paying. Of course, as of today, I have no way to verify that report because “THIS PAGE CANNOT BE DISPLAYED.”
But not everything about my Obamacare experience has been a regret. I’ve met someone on ‘RomanceAt60.com’. She’s a Republican. I aim to take her breath away with my Obamacare encounter. I know she’s going to like it. This could be the start of something big…