October 24th, 2013
06:51 PM ET
1 year ago

Slogging through Obamacare registration

(CNN) - What is it like to sign up on the online exchanges created by Obamacare?

After a Congressional hearing Thursday dissecting the problems plaguing healthcare.gov, the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services that oversees the new programs under the health care law said almost 700,000 applications have been submitted online on either the federal or state websites.

But the Obama administration has so far refused to say how many have actually managed to sign up for insurance.

Gabe Cohen gave it a try. Thirty minutes in, he was "pretty frustrated," the D.C. resident said.

Laura McNeil thought it would be pretty easy to fill out the online forms. She'd already gotten a good start, making a profile from home.

But early Thursday evening, the federal version of the online exchange was a glitch-riddled mess, telling her repeatedly that her form was "incomplete," without telling her what more she needed to do.

Cohen and McNeil were part of a demonstration on CNN's "The Situation Room," joined by fellow D.C. resident Hazami Barmada in a display of what it's like to sign up via the online exchanges of the Affordable Care Act.

An hour into the demonstration, Barmada was about ready to give up on the website. She'd begun looking up her analog filing options "to do it by paper," she said.

All three told CNN they liked the idea of having the health insurance options afforded them under Obamacare.

More importantly, "these are the young, healthy people the system needs," CNN's Tom Foreman pointed out.

The labyrinth of America's health insurance "system" needs people like Barmada, Cohen and McNeil to sign up for health insurance in order to offset costs for those who are older and use the health care system more.

Well into the demonstration on Thursday, however, the only options seemed to be to keep on slugging through.

"It's not what we anticipated four weeks into the program," "Situation Room" host Wolf Blitzer said.

Julie Bataille, the CMS director of communications, seemed to agree with some of the criticism by contractors testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, saying that "due to a compressed time frame, the system just wasn't tested enough, especially for high volume."

It's unknown how many people were on healthcare.gov on Thursday evening along with CNN's three volunteers. But estimates are that as many as 20 million logged onto the website when it first went live October 1.

More than three weeks later, contractors and the Department of Health and Human Services are scrambling to catch up.

By the end of the 90-minute demonstration, Barmada reported a breakthrough. She'd finally gotten through and made some progress. How much, however, was not clear.

"It's processing," she said. Barmada, who's self-employed, was ultimately able to sign up for an insurance plan, which was cheaper than her current plan.

The other two were not able to complete the process by the end of "Situation Room."

An hour in, Cohen said he thought he might have gotten through but he wasn't sure. The system told him it would need to process his eligibility and he would have to wait. It gave a helpful timeframe too. The wait?

"It said maximum 45 days."


Filed under: Obamacare • The Situation Room
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Fair is fair

    Just lovely

    October 24, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    Stop bickering–this ACA IS A LAW, NOW. Just fix this glitch–keep going. Move forward. GOP, greedy insurance thugs game lost. Period.

    October 24, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  3. carrotroot

    I think the death of healthcare. gov is being greatly exaggerated. All new major technology roll-outs goes through similar teething problems. ACA's website is no different.

    October 24, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  4. don in albuquerque

    I just had to sign up for new insurance with my company (business changed hands) and just the paper work and looking everything up for it took an 1 1/2 hours. Cry me a river poor baby.

    October 24, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  5. Evergreen

    Silly season all over again. The World is passing us by while we have a meltdown over a website. Pathic.

    October 24, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  6. What's in that tea anyway?

    Did we do this with Medicare Part D? Oh that's right, we had bi-partisan support to fix it. Geesh Dems, seems you folks are the only ones working on behalf of the american people. Why didn't you all shut down the "gubmit" like the Tea Fools?...governing???...what's that you say?

    October 24, 2013 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  7. Robert Constant

    Until now Insurance companies could drop you if you got sick and not pay for your treatment if they determined you had a pre existing condition. The Republicans supported this. That is because the Insurance companies bought them with campaigh "contributions". It is time to get rid of such heartless self seeking politicians. Most of them are from the Old Confederacy, and have throughly brainwashed people there. But in the rest of the country where you do not eat the things you run over in the road, VOTE THESE SCOUNDRELS OUT. The yokels who support them buy everything they use from the Communist Chinese goods in Walmart, and then throw around the word "communist" without having the foggiest idea of what a communist is.
    The Republican Party is The Tea Party, is the Bible Belt is the Old Confederacy, is a genetic throw back to the Bronze age. No rational, educated human being should vote for them . EVER!

    October 24, 2013 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  8. charlies curry

    ok guys soo now the Dems want to delay this healthcare seams to me The GOPers were right all long ..lol only in the good Old USA...

    October 25, 2013 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  9. Thomas

    The system told him it would need to process his eligibility and he would have to wait. It gave a helpful timeframe too. The wait?

    "It said maximum 45 days."

    ===

    Dose this mean the death panels will take forever to make there judgment ?
    Rick Perry / Anita Bryant 2016

    October 25, 2013 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  10. Darren

    Hey there! I've been following your web site for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic work!

    October 25, 2013 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  11. Marie MD

    Enough. There's a problem we know about it. The problem will be fixed and the teaklan fools will just look for another reason to impeach our President.
    Let's hear about Rafael bin Laden's insurance woes. Oh right, he doesn't have any. Even if he really doesn't have insurance through his government position (I wouldn't consider it work) his wife's insurance plan through Goldman Sachs ($$$$$) seems to be fine for him and his family.
    Is he giving her tips as to what's next on his tank the country agenda so she can make money.

    October 25, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |