What Enrolling Over 50 People in 3 Weeks for Obamacare in Ohio Taught Me About Healthcare.gov

February 20, 2014

As I continue to receive phone after phone call and email after email from people who have wasted hours, even days of their life trying to get signed up through healthcare.gov. I thought I should share with you my experience signing up over 50 people through healthcare.gov alone in the first three weeks of December.

When I say sign up, I mean I physically inputted the information for all those people and have been through the application as many times as a healthcare.gov web developer. Maybe more given your opinion on how well the site has or hasn’t worked.

Basically, I know this process or application like the back of my hand and what will and will not work and more importantly why you aren’t able to get the results you expected.

The Backstory

Healthcare.gov has wasted more of my life than I care to admit, sometimes taking three or more times before I was able to get an application properly submited for a client. On the other hand there were instances where everything worked like a charm and the process was completed within 20 minutes.

The success rate of this process largely depended on two things, the website’s general mood (amount of people accessing it) for that day and your information that was needed.

You see, if you don’t input your family, tax dependents and income just right things can get out of hand fast.

When the site started working in December going back and editing too much information on one application was asking too much of healthcare.gov.

The more you went back and changed things the greater the risk you ran finding an application breaking error.

What do I mean by “breaking the application?”

That’s the phrase I came up with anytime things got so bad I had to basically erase the current application and start over fresh. Believe me it happened a lot. In fact, telling someone to remove the application and start over would qualify you for a senior level tech support gig for healthcare.gov, as it seems that’s the only thing they would tell you for the first few months the site was “working.”

Now with almost three months of experience under its belt, most of those glitches have been ironed out, except for one...

The truth, it really comes down to how you answer one question.

The Question

The most important question now is the first one you are asked at the start of the income section on the application.

This question could look one of two ways (I still haven’t been able to figure out what triggers you to see which version of the question).

The first is.

“Do you expect (Your Name)’s yearly income be the same as what was reported on your 2012 federal income tax return?”

If the answer to this question is yes, then the application get’s a whole lot easier as you won’t have to “manually” input your income and it will automatically use what they have on file.

But not so fast. Here’s where things can get a little tricky.

It’s entirely possible to say yes to that question (having an income that qualifies for a subsidy) and for whatever reason still not work properly.



Right (Ding Ding)

The solution: If you completed the application and your “eligibility results” didn’t look like the last image above, you will need to go back in and remove the application you just spent all that time on.

I know, I hope you have a stress ball near by.

You can do this by clicking on your name in the upper right hand corner of the site and then clicking on “My Applications and Coverages.”

Then just click on “Remove” pictured below.

This time, answer no to the question will your income be the same as reported on your 2012 income tax report.

When you do it will ask you to input a different amount. Simply input the modified adjusted gross from you and/or your spouses 2012 tax return (this of course assumes your income hasn’t changed).

This has fixed the problem on several occasions for multiple clients.

Disclaimer: All you are doing is inputting FACTUAL information different ways so that the, still buggy, system properly recognizes it.

The NEW Problem

It’s possible that now because you have entered your information manually, with no official documentation to verify it, that the marketplace could ask you to send more information.

Refer to our eligibility chart again to see what your results should look like if you’re properly qualified for a health insurance plan and able to select a plan immediately with your subsidy.



Right (Ding Ding Ding)

The solution: You will have to remove the application again after submitting and viewing your eligibility results and get back to the ever important income question.

The Question (Version 2)

Here’s the second way this question could appear during your application.

Here you will have to select yes and pick which type(s) of income you expect to receive in 2014.

Answering this question most commonly results in the Marketplace asking you to “send them more information.”

I had one client actually go through with that process and mail in the necessary forms to verify their income.

We had to mail them because to document uploader section was not working and unable to submit the information electronically. It has actually been removed altogether from what I can tell.

Three weeks went by and never heard anything from the Marketplace. This type of delay puts you at risk for missing a desired or needed effective date.

Sadly, I can’t say if this process actually works.

Remember this is what your eligibility results will look like if you have to send more information.

NOTE: It’s important to remember that this information is a snapshot of the current application process through healthcare.gov and will certainly change as time goes on. The purpose of this article is to help you with these problems as long as they exist and to demonstrate the benefits for getting help from a health insurance expert.

The Bottom Line

It’s hard to completly communicate the tips and tricks I’ve picked up from living and breathing all things healthcare.gov for two and half months.

The most important thing to know, if you’re not getting the eligibility results you’re sure you qualify for, that most of the problem rests with that first income question and its several variations.

If you need help determining your eligibility first, you might want to watch this five part video series I put together to help you out with that.