Signing up for Obamacare: ‘This was totally disappointing.’

October 1, 2013

The Affordable Care Act's new insurance marketplaces opened Tuesday morning, where individuals can shop for individual health insurance coverage. Throughout the day, we'll be talking to people about their experiences trying to sign up on day one. 

Jon Tucci stayed up until midnight Monday, hoping to enroll on West Virginia's new insurance marketplace at the first moment possible.

Ten hours later -- after two attempts at signing up and one 45-minutes call with a consumer service agent -- technical glitches have prevented the 60-year-old grandfather from purchasing a plan.

"I'm pretty fluent on the Internet," Tucci, who is self-employed in the oil and gas industry, says. "I've applied for a lot of things, and there are always glitches. But this was totally disappointing. I'm just really frustrated."

Tucci supports the health-reform law and President Obama; he's a registered Democrat who voted for Obama twice. He describes himself as someone who likes to get things done early, which is why he decided to apply for health insurance on day one. He has diabetes and, for the past year and a half, received coverage through the health law's Pre-existing Condition Insurance Program, where he paid $308 per month for his coverage.

"Before that I had a hard time getting anything less than $800 or $1,000," Tucci says. "I understand that with my age, those are the numbers. So I'm really excited about this. Especially for us senior citizens, it's a nightmare out there right now."

The PCIP plan recently ended, and Tucci received notice that he should set up an account on HealthCare.Gov, so he could purchase coverage there. He had already decided what plan he wanted to purchase. But when he tried to login last night, he got an error message that others have seen, with garbled text. He toyed with the Web site until 1 a.m., and then went to sleep.

Tucci woke up around 6 a.m. Tuesday morning to try again, but still got the same error messages. He called the customer service center, and waited 45 minutes, he estimates, to talk to an agent.

"I could hear her reading the instructions and trying to figure out what to do," Tucci recounts. "As soon as she put me on hold, I heard the fascinating tone of a disconnect noise. I decided not to call her back, I had to get out to work."

Tucci says he'll probably try and sign up later Tuesday, if he has time when he gets home from work. Any coverage purchased on the marketplace does not start until January so, practically speaking, even waiting two months would not make a difference in his access to health care services.

"I might try later if I don't have anything else to do," Tucci says. "I may call them again and see what's going on there."

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Sarah Kliff | October 1, 2013