punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Covered California Nightmare


Do you think that all the negative speculation over how bad California’s new, affordable health insurance exchange, Covered California is, is exaggerated?

If it is anything like how Covered CA’s current call centers are operating then be very, very afraid.

The following is a true story about one woman who did everything the call center operators told her to do.  That woman was me.

It all began on the website.  I clicked that nice, friendly looking, “Start here” button and filled out the application.  When I submitted I got this message:

            “Congratulations!  You qualified for $0 per month in premium assistance.”

Wait.  That meant that I didn’t get any help, right?  So why was I being congratulated again? I double-checked their scale and our income and household size met their criteria, so what was the problem?

Commence call number one, which, of course meant a “higher than average” wait time.  When I got a real person on the phone I asked why I didn’t qualify for assistance when I met the criteria.

            “You need to fax your husband’s paycheck stubs.”

Okay.  So I did.  And didn’t hear from them.

I called back a week later to ask if they received my fax.

            “Our fax machine has been broken. You need to send it to the PO box.”

Okay.  So I did.  And didn’t hear from them.

Call three.  Did they receive the paycheck stubs?
           
“Ma’am we have no way of knowing.  We are a call center in Fresno and that P.O Box is in West Sacramento.  We don’t know if anyone is taking care of that and they aren’t really telling us anything.”

So what should I do?  “Call back.”

Okay.  So I did.

This time though, I got someone who knew what she was doing.  Her name was Lwanda and she was very friendly. 

She said:

“You didn’t need to fax or mail your paycheck stubs in.  That was the old system,” (that ancient system of a couple of weeks ago) “Now we have a new system where you can just scan your stubs in.”  In short, I wasted my time following instructions.

She also educated me on peculiar facts about the application process such as how the plan was linked to the primary tax filer and if I wasn’t listed as the primary (which I am not – my husband is) the system would not allow me to pick a plan.

So Lwanda “fixed” my application so we could proceed.

Except that we didn’t pick a plan during that phone call because poor Lwanda was using a PC and the great state of California has chosen Internet Explorer as their browser, which means that each page takes two minutes to load.  And finally, Lwanda made a great discover on my behalf (drumroll): there was a glitch in the system.   A glitch.  A single technology error that stood between me and a Covered CA plan.  I bet you didn’t see that coming.  Oh wait, yes, you probably did.

The good news: I do actually qualify for aid!  The bad news: I’m going to have to start all over again and submit a new application.

Either that or wait a week for someone at the “help” desk to stumble upon Lwanda’s message about my glitch issue and actually drudge up the energy to do something about it. Yeah.  Not going to happen.

Remind me again how universal healthcare, if it’s run like this, is supposed to help me?  I’m very, very afraid.

What ending befits this story?  Only this: a letter I just received from them today that cheerfully reads (due to the aforementioned glitch):
           
“Congratulations!  You qualify for up to $0 per month premium assistance.”

Wonderful. So congratulate me.  Not only do I not get any tax credit assistance but I also get a Covered California nightmare to go with it.    

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