Getting turned back on Day 1 of health care law in NM
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By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog
SANTA FE – Well, that didn’t take us very far.
On the first day of the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange, I wanted to compare how my employer’s health insurance package stacks up against the platinum, gold, silver and bronze plans that are being offered in the state.
Who knows, for all the drama surrounding the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, maybe the plan offered in New Mexico is a better deal than the one my bosses and I pay.
I called the NMHIX hotline at 11:32 a.m. and talked to someone almost immediately. That was good.
I told her I didn’t necessarily want to buy health insurance, but that I wanted to see what kind of individual rates I qualified for so I could compare it to the plan I currently have.
She asked for my name and zip code, and after putting me on hold for five minutes, directed me to the national sign-up website and also gave me a phone number, 1-800-318-2596.
I went to the site and saw a form to fill out. A little leery of typing in personal information online, I decided to call instead. At 11:46 a.m., a recorded message told me to stay on the line and that the estimated wait time would be 15 minutes. At 12:04 p.m. (18 minutes, okay), a representative named Joshua came on the line.
I told him what I wanted to do and he told me to go to the New Mexico health insurance website. After telling him I had already spoken to a representative in New Mexico, Joshua apologized and said, “I’m sorry, you’re right, I can help you here.”
He then told me I should create a personal account at the www.healthcare.gov site and once I did that I could compare prices and not have to enroll if I didn’t want to.
“Just because you apply doesn’t mean you have to get coverage,” Joshua politely told me.
So I hung up and at 12:08 p.m. I logged on to www.healthcare.gov and started filling out the online form. I gave them my full name, address, phone number and email address. Then on to the next page to create a user name and password.
But then, on the next page, things ground to a halt.
On the page reserved for three security questions, the drop boxes didn’t work:
I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to technical things so I thought I’d done something wrong. I called over a colleague to see if he could get it to work, but he couldn’t either.
I called the NMHIX hotline and talked to a nice woman named Edna and told her my problem.
Before I could finish saying, “Then I got to the security question page ..” she interrupted and said, “Oh yes. That’s getting worked on” — apparently on the federal website’s end.
“People can’t get past that part,” Edna said, apologizing. To her credit, she gave me her direct number and told me to call her back or check back with the site later.
That was at 12:16 p.m.
I will try again later and let you, dear reader, know what kind of health insurance I’m eligible for.
For now, I’m in a holding pattern, as doubtless other New Mexicans looking for information on individual coverage are too.
Update: This morning, an anchor on MSNBC had similar problems:
Contact Rob Nikolewski at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski