Obamacare Enrollment: Why Can't I Access Healthcare.gov?

by Michael on Oct 31, 2013 · 2 comments

Image of Obamacare Website

By now, I’m sure that you’ve all heard about the troubles with Healthcare.gov, the online portal for buying health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (i.e., the ACA, or Obamacare).

Curious as to what all the fuss was about, I decided to try it out myself and see if the situation was as bad as people claim.

No, we don’t need actually need to buy health insurance coverage, as my employer provides us with excellent coverage. But we should still be able to browse the available options and see what’s out there.

As a reminder, the ACA requires people to either carry suitable health insurance or pay a penalty for lack of coverage. Thus, it’s kind of important for people who need coverage to be able to sign up for a policy before the penalties kick in.

As a reminder, this so-called individual mandate is intended to protect insurers, who can no longer deny coverage or charge more based on pre-existing conditions, from getting stuck insuring only the (currently) sick. If you could just wait until you got sick to buy coverage, the system would collapse.

Anyway, as you can see below, I was able to get through the account creation and activation process with no troubles.

But from there? Not exactly smooth sailing. I clicked the link in the confirmation e-mail to activate my new account, logged in, and clicked the “Apply and shop for coverage for me and/or my family” link.

Update: The problems seem to have been solved. See below for details.

I was then greeted with a request to verify my identity. To do this, I had to provide some personal info including my address, phone number, birthdate, and SSN.

From there, I was forwarded to an identity verification page where I was asked several questions that had presumably been gleaned from my credit report. These questions included things like:

  • Which one of the following credit cards do you have?
  • Select the city in which you have previously resided (from a list).
  • Select the name of the street on which you have previously resided (from a list).
  • Select the name of your previous employer (from a list).

Great, no problem. I knew all of the answers. And yes, as you can see below, they were able to successfully verify my identity.

Or so it seemed. When I clicked the “Continue” button, it just hung there and did nothing. Hmmm. When I re-loaded the site and checked my profile, it clearly stated that my identity hadn’t yet been verified.

So here we are. I have an account but I can’t actually use it. Apparently the identity verification step is what went down when Verizon’s Terremark datacenter crashed this past Sunday, effectively crippling the Obamacare enrollment process.

Update: A day later, I logged in and all was well. It seems that the verification process did work the even though the site didn’t recognize it at first, because I wasn’t asked to re-verify. Everything appears to be functional.

While there were reports the next day that Verizon had fixed the problems on their end, the ID verification step still appears to be broken. Thus, as far as I can tell, people still can’t get through to sign up for coverage.


1 Money Beagle October 31, 2013 at 11:18 am

I am in the same boat, where I don’t need health care through the site, but I wanted to see what it was all about. I didn’t even get that far. I clicked on the front page link to browse available plans and was immediately given an error that the page doesn’t exist. Yikes.

Later, I came back and that presumably had been fixed as I was then able to put in some basic info about where I lived and the type of coverage I was looking for, but that was pretty slow so I left.

Sounds like a hot mess.

2 krantcents October 31, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I am one of the lucky ones that I have good medical insurance. There are alternatives to the typical private insurance. Look for associations or other group plans.

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