I've had quite a few emails and phone calls about what's going on with the marketplace and I've had to tell everyone the same sad story, "no I don't have healthcare.gov superpowers, I'm just as in the dark as you right now."
As much as I would like to think of myself as a health insurance super hero (can't say that's something I pretended to be as a kid), sadly I've been rendered as useless as a phone book this last week waiting for the suits in Washington to get their act together.
What's Going On?
To put it simply, Ohio's marketplace and every other federally run marketplace is not ready.
I received an insurance insider tip that the technology to communicate and verify tax credits and subsidies with the IRS was not even close to being ready. Also, that a project of this size would usually have months and months of testing before they would even considered taking it live.
As of two weeks ago, that insurance company rep had not even seen the marketplace working yet. Whoops.
So It's Not Good?
From what I can tell they kept with this October 1 deadline to prove a point, out of stubbornness or stupidity. The Obama administration must have felt that a delay of this size would seriously jeopardize the laws credibility to actually function, possibly with good cause.
To put it another way, it would be like if I hung a giant flashing neon open sign outside of Giangola Insurance and then locked the front door. You would be pretty upset if I told you to be there and didn't let you in.
Water Under the Bridge
Sadly, there isn't much you or I can do at this point and I don't want to pick on healthcare.gov's ineptitude all day (although if i had a therapist, I'm sure he/she would say that might be good for me).
I do however, want to tell you that it's okay, you're not alone, it's not working for anyone right now.
The best thing you can do is sit tight and wait for Ohio's health insurance marketplace to open for real.
What Should You Do While You Wait?
That answer depends on who you are.
If you have already done a very cool and smart thing and granted me the privilege to assist with your health insurance, nothing or whatever else you would normally be doing. I will definitely let you know when there is something to be done.
If you just enjoy hanging around with all these other health insurance, ACA, Obamacare nuts around here you can use this time to do a very cool and smart thing.
If that's not your style and you prefer to do things on your own...
If you have found any of my information over the last few years helpful, I would encourage you to put the following information on your Ohio marketplace application, as it will ask you if anyone is/has helped you.
Think of it like a customer service promo code.
Name: Joseph R. Giangola, Jr.
National Producer Number: 14143939
(My middle name's Ralph, yes I got it from my dad, and yes, I was mean enough to give it to my son)
Even if I never talk to you, I will still be able to help you if (probably more like when) you have a problem with this process or your health insurance plan.
Honestly, if you don't, it's like getting out to pump your own gas when the full service line is the same price (Probably the least timely reference I've ever made).
The Bottom Line
If you have been waiting for months, even years to finally apply for Ohio's marketplace, you're just going to have a to wait a little longer.
The only question I don't know is how much longer.
Don't believe the super fluffy, kittens and rainbows Health Insurance Marketplace commercials you see on TV. There's going to be more differences than ever between health insurance companies in Ohio and you will want to know what they are.