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healthcare.gov opens at midnight on the day of the government shutdown and lambert finds a bug

[And if you have your own experiences to share, and especially screen dumps, please add them in comments or contact me. Either Federal Exchanges, or state exchanges. I'm especially interested in Covered California! Thank you! --lambert]

Nice timing.

john.smith@gmail.com from Maine had a registration #FAIL at step 3. Here's the screen dump:

The dropdown should be a security question, like "The name of my first pet is," "Or the name of my favorite Aunt is." No dropdown. I did notice a snippet of code flash by earlier, but foolishly refreshed before capturing it.

So, er, a glitch. Maybe something tiny that Obama's tech dudes are fixing even as I write. But this is my experience, FWIW!

It's also an onerous and unpleasant registration process, with unhelpful documentation on how to pick a password. This is better. Couldn't Obama have gotten Jony Ive to do this thing, or something?

UPDATE Here are several confirmations of registration problems at NC. As Corrente readers know, the ObamaCare rollout is not like a political campaign; it is a political campaign. So, signing up victims consumers is just like voter turnout. Therefore, a registration #FAIL is the most basic and simple #FAIL there is. It's the equivalent of not having gas in the car that's supposed to take seniors to the polling place, or having a server meltdown for the system that's supposed to instance message bearded hipsters on their iPhones. Obamacare is Obama's Project Orca -- except election day is one day, and -- as Democrats will be quick to point out -- there are many days to work out the bugs with ObamaCare's websites. At which point the fundamental flaws will become evident!

UPDATE One Kossack's experience. This guy got a lot farther than I did:

So I took my own advice. I have been breathless with excitement [This is Kos, so this may have been literally true], waiting until October 1 like a kid on Christmas eve, to find out what plans will be available to me and what they will cost.

Well, my experience has been everything Fox "News" and the Teabagistani Ministry of Propaganda have said it would be. Maybe a bit worse.

First of all, and this is a fundamental complaint: no, you can't just "shop for coverage" and "compare plans". I fully expected that the first screen i would see would be a screen for my state, with all available plans - from bronze to platinum - laid out in a chart for me to see. Just like I can get now at a BC/BS site. Just like you can get from any online marketplace.

No such luck. NO INFORMATION ABOUT PLANS IS AVAILABLE.

You must first register for an account and begin the lengthy, cumbersome enrollment process...before you have any idea what you're enrolling for!

Well, OK then. I'll try to sign up for an account and enroll.

Next problem: don't try this with Firefox! I've begun to use Firefox for almost all browsing: this site - Daily Kos - for example, simply will not load at any acceptable speed with IE.

With Firefox, I got garbled screens at Healthcare.gov, and eventually it just wouldn't accept any input.

OK, then. "Shut that whole thing down" and open Internet Explorer.

OK, then. This is better!

Next problem: almost right from the start, the site was already asking for too much personal information. Remember, it's forcing me to register before I can see what I can buy. Seriously, the extent of the data mining is enough to play right into the hands of any Teabagger, Fox "News" viewer, Limbot, or other paranoid anti-gummint type. But I want to see this stuff, and they're gonna need this information from me anyway, so I go ahead.

After entering more personal information than I've entered on the average mortgage application, there comes the ID verification. This is sort of like the glove on that creepy Uncle Sam in the Koch videos. It asks me weird questions about previous addresses, previous phone numbers, even a cell phone number (I'd never entered anything about a cell phone on the site so far). Granted, most of these questions are pretty much the same questions you're asked when getting an online credit report, but it was creepy. Why did they have this information about me anyway? Had they already accessed my complete credit report, where that sort of information resides?

OK, then. Except I somehow failed the ID verification.

Not to worry, I can still proceed with the application. So it says.

Remember, I've been at this for half an hour now, and I still have no fucking idea what sort of insurance plans are available to me and whether or not I should bother.

OK, then. The next part is routine stuff, including stuff I've already entered. So I enter it again. Then come the questions about income. No problem...it asks whether my 2014 income will be the same as my 2011 income. I tell it "NO". It then asks me what I think my 2014 income will be. I think it will be higher, and I don't want to have them base my subsidy on a lower income because I'd owe some of it back, so I enter my estimated 2014 amount.

OK, then. Time to "review" before "submitting".

Hmmmmmm...at the end, it says "2014 income will be the same as 2011 income".

NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!

Edit..., the edit screen shows the new income in the little box. Hit "Save and Continue"..."2014 income will be the same as 2011 income". Dammit! Edit again...this time I cleared the box and re-entered.

Review...

"2014 income will be the same as 2011 income".

Fuck it. I hit "Submit" anyway, just so I can see what I came for: the plans available to me ant their cost! I'll worry about the subsidy amount later.

OK, then. Waitwaitwaitwaitwait...

"your application cannot be processed until your identity has been verified. Call 1-800-318-2596".

I did that. I knew that doing so would just piss me off more, but I did it. Of course, I was on hold for about 45 minutes, all the while writing this diary.

Eventually a very nice young lady came on, verified my phone number and address (I gave her no other information!) and she then told me that she had my application on her screen (that tracking ability alone will make the paranoids say "I told you so" and go out and buy another gun or five) and that the problems were not my problems, they were system problems. Lots of people signed on. I guess they never expected lots of people to sign on, did they. Shit.

I give up. "You can try calling us again later", says the very nice, very helpful young lady. "You could even try calling tomorrow. You have until December 15.".

Congrats to this Kossack for being honest. There may be hope. (Oddly, or not, if you read the whole post, you'll see that the guy has no concept there could be a critique of ObamaCare from the left.) But here is key point, the nut graf, the bottom line, the takeaway. Here is the last step before the #FAIL:

"2014 income will be the same as 2011 income".

Fuck it. I hit "Submit" anyway,

As Corrente readers know, this is:

1. The insane demand that you project your 2014 income to apply for coverage, and

2. The insane system architecture, which must know your income, in order to fire up the income eligibility engine, a Rube Goldberg device that will throw you into the proper coverage bucket, or not, depending on what you you say your income is. Needless to say, single payer does not have this problem, because its system architecture is simple, rugged, and robust. Everybody in, nobody out!

In other words, after spending an hour fighting through a rotten implementation, the Kos poster discovered why ObamaCare is a rotten product.

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Comments

albrt's picture
Submitted by albrt on

I think the most interesting aspect of the process is that you can't window shop anonymously. You have to commit all of your data to the Obomneycare system before they will even give you a general idea of the pricing.

Each person has to integrate and clean up their own data from multiple sources (IRS, credit agencies, etc.) before they can pass GO.

Presumably that will make enforcement a lot easier, since they can start with a list of people who didn't sign up, containing very detailed information about the people.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

and if I were not have to go on the Health Exchange, I would create a throw away email address, at the minimum.

We even directed Mr. A's Health Insurance Company''s (one administers the self-funded program) to a spam folder, because the "wellness" emails were to nagging and irritating.

Can't imagine having to deal with a bunch of federal bureaucrats (and I was one!) "bugging me" to purchase anything!

Talk about "crossing a line!"

Jeeeeezzzzz!!!!!

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

Submitted by hipparchia on

I think the most interesting aspect of the process is that you can't window shop anonymously. You have to commit all of your data to the Obomneycare system before they will even give you a general idea of the pricing.

that was my first (and so far only) thought, though i would have picked a different word to use in place of "interesting."

Submitted by lambert on

If the only determination is income -- and not other stuff that, say, credit reporting agencies know about you -- then why can't you just pick your income, your state, and your age froma dropdown and get an estimate, like Kaiser calculator?

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

... the Exchanges aren't supposed to help anyone get a real price and buy a product -- just data flytraps to help DHS, IRS, NSA or who-the-heck-ever (at this point) fill in blank fields in their vast integrated SurroundSound databases about each one of us! [A dirty collection process, too, since neither their system nor people necessarily have correct info, so imagine the garbage-in-garbage-out angle and the legal consequences (for the hapless person attached to a dirty data profile).

I wonder if simply browsing on the exchange website(s) under a doe email is allowed if you delete cookies.

goldberry's picture
Submitted by goldberry on

I suspect that buying insurance is going to be like buying a plane ticket. The cost will be optimized based on your ability to pay. To test this, people should post the quote they got, preferably anonymously. Who benefits from asymmetric information? Just about every contractor these days. It is almost impossible to get an idea about what your neighbor paid for a service because the plumber, carpenter, roofer etc wont tell you

In fact, just about the only way to find that stuff out and keep contractors somewhat honest is to look up reviews on Angie's List where customers actually post their quotes.
So, maybe what we need is an Obamacare version of Angie's list where people can share their income, age, geography, quote and exchange sign up experience. Is there any law against sharing that information?

Come together at The Confluence

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

I'm impressed with the perseverance of the Kossack! I wonder how that's going to play with the millions of people who use HRBlock to file their 1040-EZs?

This motivated me to see what CoveredCalifornia.com looked like now that it's finally live. ... Except that it isn't. All I got was the good old "Coming soon" screen they've had for months. (Yes, I took a screen shot.)

Submitted by lambert on

Because I thought Covered California was going to have this under control, if anyone did.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

Love it. Are we now a nation of Vladimirs and Estragons?

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

Again, first the laugh -- an actual lol in fact! -- then the trailing off. It's much harder when you're part of the play to take on board that Godot really isn't coming.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

Yes -- much harder or perhaps grim. But jumping out of my status within the play to pretend I was just watching other characters doing the waiting was like having a spoon of sweet mirth!

jo6pac's picture
Submitted by jo6pac on

from huffingpuffy comments.

4 minutes ago ( 8:14 PM)
Well, after a 3 hour process at least I have a number. $114 per month for a gold level plan through Molina Health Care. AND THAT MY FRIENDS is quite a deal considering that the last time I had medical insurance in California 4 years ago, I was shelling out $358 per month for a plan with a $20 co-pay. Today, that same private individual plan will cost someone my age $440 per month. I am beyond pleased...TIP: DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER signing up unless you have all of the required information on hand, but most importantly, your 2012 gross adjusted income and your employers EIN# which can be found on your last W2.

Then again is this the real price or just a guess on the site program. It would be good News;)

Submitted by lambert on

Happy for the guy, caveating the usual assumptions about the actual policy. Would be nice to know his age.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

Also, does he know what his deductibles, co-insurance, copays, and non-covered areas are? All of that matters, completely. Premium price by itself is otherwise meaningless.

Submitted by hipparchia on

the comment says he got a gold plan, which isn't bad. the gold plans are supposed to be 80/20 (80% actuarial value, if you prefer that term). this level of insurance has been fairly standard for what larger employers have offered for years, though more of even the good ones have been sliding towards 70/30 (comparable to silver plans) in the past few years.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

I hear you on the probably 80/20 co-insurance part. But that doesn't address deductibles or whether there's split deductibles (e.g., hospital verus RX versus Doc Visits), and what is and isn't covered and how skinny a network of providers the plan allows.

I'm sure "gold" by itself denotes something better than "bronze" or "silver" -- just looking our for those pesky details about real value -- e.g. the total pricing structures of these exchange products (beyond monthly premiums and broad cost sharing ratios).

Submitted by hipparchia on

...those pesky details about real value ...

:)

this you will get to find out only after you get really expensively sick. not even all the extra information about deductibles, copays, etc will tell you if you bought a gold plan that provides good coverage for cancer care but lousy coverage for heart disease.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

Seriously? I thought that if one made the inordinate time to do full due diligence on a policy on offer that a lot of that sort of stuff could in fact be discerned (granted, by having to do way more work than should be necessary). Since you know what you're talking about though, I find this really disturbing -- the WMD-style surprise-price factors embedded in policies that (based on what you're suggesting) are just SOP with insurance and ain't nothin' ObamaCare gonna change about it ...

Submitted by hipparchia on

there was a pretty good post on some blog somewhere on the topic a year or so ago, when they first started designing the comparison charts. i've lost the bookmark and haven't been able to locate the post again. i'll keep looking for it.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

example.

This blogger surely is very young and/or very low income, if he's received enough of a subsidy to only pay slight over $100 premium.

Still, it's odd.

My understanding is that subsidies ONLY apply to silver plans (of maybe lesser plans). And that the Health Exchange participant must make up any difference in premium above the silver plan premium.

Simply doesn't make sense that any monthly premium for a "gold" plan could be that inexpensive, with the beneficiary picking up "the premium difference between the two plan levels" AND having to pay some percentage of the silver premium, as well.

If it is true--he must be two years old and dirt poor, LOL!

Sorry, don't mean that hateful--just couldn't resist. You know what they say: "If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is." ;-D

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

Submitted by hipparchia on

My understanding is that subsidies ONLY apply to silver plans (of maybe lesser plans). And that the Health Exchange participant must make up any difference in premium above the silver plan premium.

your understanding is mostly WRONG.

how the subsidies can be applied is hugely complex, but basically, YES YOU CAN USE YOUR PREMIUM SUBSIDY TO BUY A GOLD PLAN.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

What I was trying to say was that participants MUST pay something (that's my impression--maybe as little as a few percent--but something) of their health insurance premium, even if they receive a subsidy, AND that these individuals must also pay the difference between the silver and gold health insurance plan premiums.

And yes, I find it hard to believe that he could meet both of those monetary obligations, and have a premium that low.

UNLESS, like I said--he is VERY young (obviously I was being facetious about "age two") and very low income. [I thought that I clarified that, LOL!]

I do believe that it would be an excellent questions as to "why" reporters almost never cover the costs of these plans.

Especially since the "gold" 80/20 actuarial plan has been the "standard" for decades (yes, it's on the decline--but even our piece of cr*p plan--with up to $25,000 annual out-of-pocket pays at 80%, until you reach your $25,000 obligation, and it picks up costs at 100%).

As RG always points out--the real key is the overall costs to the health plan beneficiary--not just the premium cost, anyway.

This is why I made the comment last evening that I think that it would be a good idea to mainly deal with posts that have some detail.

Without that, there is no context.

Even if this post is accurate--we're all left "guessing" at the Health Exchange participant's very pertinent data (especially age and location, which have so much bearing on the premium costs).

But I do apologize for the very garbled syntax.

Since I can't correct the comment, I have to hope that my mention of the requirement to "pay the difference," might clarify my intent somewhat. ;-)

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

Submitted by hipparchia on

probably the average person surfing the internet is not going to end up reading this far down in comments on this (or any) post, but just in case they do, and just in case they might be confused about the (poorly-designed) subsidies, i wanted that one point to be absolutely clear.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

N/T

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

Between 20:20 and 20:30 Jane Smith made 3 attempts to get past Step 1, which is to create a login to create an account.

After being asked to type in first and last name, email address (and confirmation) and a unique user ID, there's a Captcha window. The first time the Captcha was so illegible that 2 tries to type the words failed. The data input into Name/LastName/ID/Emailaddress all disappeared. On attempting to reenter that data, the system locked the user out "Your session has expired. Please Start the Registration Again." This loop to nothing happened 2 more times even though correct Captcha words were entered.

The screen shot attached is the error message (barrier to entry at the welcome-mat stage) after the third try.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

On the NYS Dept. of Health main website (the exchange being a subsection of same) there's an announcement that NYS DOH, on Sept. 17, 2013, received an award for "Digital Excellence." Good thing that award was awarded before today.

SEPTEMBER 17, 2013
State Health Department Honored for Digital Excellence
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) has received a Digital Government Achievement Award for its efforts to make health data easily accessible to all New Yorkers.

http://www.health.ny.gov/

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

The NYStateofHealth website does *not* appear under the NYS DOH website but rather appears to be a "standalone" website within the NY.GOV web-world.

Submitted by lambert on

1. Look beneath the edit box for a button called Insert, which will be below the listing for the uploaded file (one Insert button per file)

2. Select the size for the image; the above are Full

3. Click the cursor where you want the image to appear, e.g. between two paragraphs

4. Click the Insert button

5. The HTML will appear. Save.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

... and will implement. Really happy to know how to do the whole thing now!

Splashoil's picture
Submitted by Splashoil on

A guy at my gym just got a 560 employee company letter informing him the pre-tax health plan was being terminated. Helpful information included was a letter from a local insurance agent and some PDF links for silver, bronze, and gold plans they offer. A more sober note informs the worker that his new coverage will be his responsibility, paid from after tax earnings.
Here in WA we don't even need our stinking exchange with our local agent poised to sell a plan and get his 7% O'care commission! Good times!

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

I'm sorry about your fellow at the gym (and the other employees at the company). His story reveals the double-whammy caused by O'Care (short for Zero Care): (1) Now on your own in the Wild West of the Exchanges and Mystery Price Land to get Insurance and (2) No more 100% pre-tax for your employer insurance premium payments which means your friend will have to take a medical costs deduction on his 1040 which ObamaCare has now debased by 2.5% as the deduction can only now be taken if med expenses (including premiums) exceed 10% of income -- where as it was (before PPACA) 7.5%. Yes, a 2.5% tax increase on the same people who are being shafted with losing employer coverage and being sent to the unaffordable insurance junkyard of the exchanges. Not a factoid being highlighted much in the Tool Media Establishment (Red or Blue).

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

Maybe all the people with bad computer luck congregate at Corrente. If not, and if this small sample is any kind of indicative, these "Exchanges" are going to be one hell of a ride.

(Exchanges are in quotes because nothing much seems to get exchanged. They're black holes, so far.)

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

Uh, they already are. There's snippets of Obama's RoseGarden speech out in MSM where he's gushing about how today was a victory because it showed how many squillions of peeps are dying to know about ObamaCare. I think that translates roughly into "See? It's so popular!"

:)

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

The success metric for ObamaCare is subtly shifting from "numbers enrolled" to "numbers of visitors" to the websites !!!

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

EVERY reporter and pundit I've heard on EVERY show, beginning early this morning with Washington Journal (C-Span), and ALL DAY LONG has pretty much repeated WH and DNC talking points--"The launch of the ACA has been an overwhelming success!"

So we need to be diligent in getting out the "real truth"--in fairness, to include bona fide positive stories.

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

Steven Peterson
@squeakytoy

The New York State healthcare exchange only shows “Error 500: java.lang.NullPointerException”. Who uses WebSphere in 2013?

15 HOURS AGO

Lambert (or other Tech Masters here) -- do you know what the reference to WebSphere is? From the POV of ignoramus (me) it suggests that the IT contractor used junky components to design either hardware or software ... but I'd be interested to know in more detail.

jo6pac's picture
Submitted by jo6pac on

Anyone, please help on this. I'm going to bed now to cry myself to sleep:(

Splashoil's picture
Submitted by Splashoil on

I consider the technical glitches just a sideshow. Pockets will be picked. Right now I know of at least one 500+ local employer dumping their health plan sending their workers to insurance agents. This must taking advantage of the delayed requirement to provide insurance. No doubt a well timed feature to combine with the rollout. Shock and awe. These workers could care less about their web experience. But the short checks and tighter budgets will combine with reduced benefits to make unhappy campers.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

about "technical issues" is interesting and good, so long as it doesn't become a flat-out distraction from the real subject matter, LOL!

goldberry is correct that we need to try to solicit "online experiences" with at least some detail, if we are to draw any lessons from others' experiences on the Health Exchanges.

I'm as finicky as the next person about giving our really "personal details"--but when I post what our insurance "offering" is from either Mr A's company, or a public or private health exchange, I'm willing to at least give my "age-group," marital status, and a few other demographic details which would give a bit of context to the situation.

I'm curious--has anyone here actually created a Health Exchange account yet?

These are the experiences that I'm anxious to hear about, since we might could at least get some feedback from them (as opposed to anonymous bloggers' posts).

;-)

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

Splashoil's picture
Submitted by Splashoil on

Wonder if the incompetence may be a designed feature. After all Obama said he would not create "some new government program." Your local private insurance agent or the private web providers may offer a better experience while they pocket a government subsidized commission and steer you to the "best plans" ha ha.
As James Garner might have said, If you can't trust your insurance agent, who can you trust?

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

Bingo! I think you nailed it, Splashoil.

Wow, there's so many different 11 Dimensional Chess angles on can superimpose onto this debacle. And I'm ready to believe every single one that points in the direction of enhancing the power of rentiers over people. Which this qualifies, obviously.