What to Do If You're Frustrated or Fed Up With Applying for Pennsylvania Obamacare Through HealthCare.gov
As Obamacare enters its fourth open-enrollment period, one would hope the health insurance application process would be as simple and fast as it was originally intended to be. But, for many, streamlined health plan enrollment and renewal -- not to mention truly affordable coverage -- still seems like a faraway goal.
Below are a couple strategies to keep your application moving forward and get your health insurance needs met.
Common Complaints from Health Insurance Applicants
The list of complaints from those caught in the health exchange bureaucracy is long, commonly including:
- exchange websites are still buggy or broken
- phone and chat hold times are unreasonable, and representatives often don’t have helpful answers to questions
- applicants can’t easily compare health plan benefits and costs
- applicants can’t figure out whether their current health care providers are included in the plan they’re considering
- applicants choose plans only to discover later that they can’t afford them
- application information isn’t recorded properly (or protected from privacy violations) by the health care exchange
- exchanges are slow to respond to problems with applications, premium payments, or tax forms, and
- health insurance plans are sometimes canceled or changed without notice.
A review of marketplace social media sites shows that frustration is all too common, and expectations for improvement in the new enrollment season are low:
Third day on hold waiting to speak to someone at your service center. Phone battery died yesterday after two hours waiting. Today I’ve been on hold waiting 32 minutes and counting!” ~ a Covered California user on Facebook, 9/29/2015
“Funny how enrollment for 2016 is Nov 1 and I still haven’t been enrolled into anything and I’ve been trying since Dec 2014! I do not know what the issue is I’ve done and provided everything needed for my enrollment and all I get is oh we have to escalate your application then nothing for weeks, months, etc.” ~ a Maryland Health Connection user on Facebook, 10/2/2015
@WAplanfinder Frustrating that our 2month old is not insured due to “eligibility determination” error. 6-8 weeks before a resolution. #absurd ~ @TeknophobkRobot on Twitter, 10/5/2015
@NYStateofHealth I uploaded documents 8/20, was told 7-10 days for decision. Checking in 9/16: “looks like nobody has looked at them” ~ @laripley on Twitter, 9/16/2015
Hey @HealthSourceRI, expected wait times of “longer than 60 min” really doesn’t make you user friendly. #JustSayin ~ @misscherryjones on Twitter, 10/14/2015
Use Social Media to Get a Response From Your Health Insurance Exchange
Social media is a useful tool for more than just complaining about problems with a health insurance exchange. In many cases, it’s one of the best ways to get a direct response to a problem. Many exchanges respond to social media posts with speed and courtesy for one simple reason -- the complaints are public, and the exchanges want to protect their images. If you’re trying to solve a specific problem and can’t get someone at the exchange to talk to you, consider becoming a squeaky wheel on social media. Be clear, firm, polite, and persistent, and you may see some movement on your problem.
If your issue is particularly egregious, you may even want to reach out to the local press to see if they are interested in covering your story.
For a list of ways to find HealthCare.gov on social media, see How to Get Help From Pennsylvania's Health Insurance Exchange.
Ask a Broker or Insurance Agent to Help With Your Health Insurance Application
At no cost to you, a health insurance broker or agent can:
- help you understand whether you qualify for Obamacare subsidies
- compare the health insurance plans available to you, and
- make recommendations on the coverage that’s best for you and your family.
Just as important, the broker can walk your application through HealthCare.gov from start to finish, saving you time and frustration.
To enroll you under the Affordable Care Act, a broker or insurance agent must be licensed. You can find a list of brokers in your state by visiting your health insurance exchange. (For the direct link to the broker search page for HealthCare.gov, see How to Get Help From Pennsylvania's Health Insurance Exchange.)
A government-funded navigator can also help you apply for coverage, but there are fewer navigators than brokers -- and navigators aren’t allowed to recommend specific plans based on your circumstances and what they know about whether the plans will truly work for you.
You won’t pay the broker; they earn a commission from the insurance company when they enroll you in a plan. For that reason, you may want to do some comparison shopping on your own to be sure the agent has considered all your options.
Finally, when using a broker, keep in mind that you can get tax credits and subsidies only if you enroll through your state’s health insurance exchange. Make sure your agent or broker assesses your eligibility for savings and, if you qualify, submits your application through HealthCare.gov.
You can talk directly with a broker by calling 1-800-943-6832.
You may also be interested in:
A licensed insurance agent or broker can help you compare plans, figure out whether you qualify for subsidies, and apply for coverage in Pennsylvania.
Learn important facts about the Obamacare open enrollment period for 2017.
Learn where Pennsylvania residents should go to get health plans under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and how to get help with the application process.