Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wrestling hopefully over

So I mentioned in the spaghetti-dumping post that I'd been wrestling with for my 2015 health insurance.

Basically the issue was that I'd made a new application for 2015 to see if I could get a plan with a lower premium/deductible/etc., since my income situation is very different from what it was before.

The site gleefully allowed me to fill out the application.  No problem there.  However, I got to the "review and sign" step, reviewed and signed, and clicked the button to go on to "identity verification".  I'd already been through that headache signing up for the 2014 plan, so I thought it would go quickly.  But no, it just unceremoniously dumped me out at my profile page, where it said "Identity Verified" under my name, and there was no button to continue going forward to the step where I actually get to select an insurance plan.  The application still showed as being "in progress", rather than "submitted" or "completed", and I couldn't go any further.

So basically, even though I'd filled out a 2015 application to the fullest extent of my ability, before the December 15 deadline, it wasn't enough and my 2014 plan got renewed for 2015.  So instead of being able to pay a nice low premium, I was still stuck paying over $200.

My dad and I wrestled with the website off and on during January, and then February rolled around.  February 15th is the absolute deadline for 2015 coverage.  You don't get it done by then, you don't get a Marketplace plan.  Simple as that.

Finally, we just had to bite the bullet and do everything over the phone, since the website wasn't getting us anywhere.  I now have a much cheaper plan that still covers just as much as what I had before.  It kinda hinges on me getting a job, so basically that's the next thing that I have to focus on.  It's been a high-stress first couple of months of 2015 so far, and the stress won't go away until I have a job.  Fun fact: your income can be "too low" for the Marketplace, and they shovel you off to Medicaid.

So basically, for me at least, the Marketplace website is completely useless and I have to do everything over the phone.  I should remember that for next year, if the Affordable Care Act is still around.

By the way, the "identity verification" headache was due to the Marketplace's dependence on a credit report to confirm your identity.  I don't have a credit card, so I don't have a credit report.  Simple as that.  I have no need for a credit card and no desire for a credit card, so nothing's changing there, at least until I need a loan or something that actually requires a credit check.  After talking to customer service representatives for the Marketplace and Equifax, and going back and forth for what seemed like hours, the Marketplace finally, and seemingly begrudgingly, revealed that there was an alternate method of identity verification that was far simpler and less headache-inducing.  Simply make a photocopy of my drivers' license or other valid photo ID, and send it to some weird address in Kentucky.  Did that, verified, headache over.  So, if you're going through a similar headache, make sure to ask your Marketplace customer service representative about an alternate method of identity verification.

Finally, don't get irate at CSRs, they don't need your shit, and it won't help anything.  They're just doing their job and trying their best to help you.  You get farther if you present the problem in a calm, collected, and civil manner, and the call becomes an atmosphere of problem solving.  It's another human being on the other end of the call.

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