- Posted December 20, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Obamacare: Your story
New, improved Obama-care site? Not.
I used to get angry at people who called the Affordable Care Act "Obama-care". No more.
After months of trying to simply create an account and to have my identity verified, I am still unable to get to the point where I can actually view any health plan information or to see prices or have it determine if I even qualify for any plan.
Over this period of time, I've managed to get my application to a point where they are trying to verify my identity from personal documents that I've scanned and uploaded to them. My social security card, my state driver's license, and my birth certificate have all been provided to them. But for numerous weeks now I've received no emails from them, no phone calls, and when I login to the site it shows that my application has been submitted but they are trying to validate my identity.
I've wasted months of frustrating time and energy on the Obama-care website like many people have experienced. But what many people don't hear much about is its poorly constructed call center technology. It does not have even the most basic call center features that we as consumers have come to expect from professional customer service.
Yesterday after 2 hours of working with a representative on the phone at their call center, our call was abruptly disconnected. I waited 10 minutes to see if the agent would call me back. He didn't. I called back in to the main number and waited in the queue until the next rep could help me. The hold music faded to static several times and then back to clearer music. Finally they answered.
I explained that I had become disconnected from a previous agent and he never called me back. The new female agent explained that the previous agent would have been completely unable to call me back since she told me that, "Calling you back would be a security violation". I was surprised since most call centers ask for your callback number up front in case you become disconnected. Oddly, the other agent had asked this at the start of the call and even asked who he was talking to and asked questions to identify me.
I asked if she could transfer me to the other agent since after several months I finally had someone who was actually helping me make some progress. She informed me that it was impossible to transfer a call to him directly. She explained that, "He would have had only 2 seconds and then the next call would have come in to him."
I asked her to give me the name of the person running this call center and then transfer me to them. She said it was against their rules to transfer me to them or to even to provide that person's name so I asked to have a customer support email address and she said she'd need to put me on hold to go get it. After 10 minutes, I was disconnected.
I called back and got a new agent. I explained to Todd what had happened and asked to speak to a supervisor. 6 minutes later a woman identifying herself as a supervisor came on the line.
After 3 attempts for her name I gave up... I was unable to understand what she was saying. I think it started with an "L". I've worked with many people of different dialects and I pride myself on understanding people. I've never heard this particular dialect before. It was a cross between an accent of southern India with some aspects of Japanese. I was skeptical and questioned the odds that Todd transferred me to the Japanese embassy in India. I asked if she could simply tell me if she was in the United States since I would be providing health and identity information. She seemed offended but said "Yes, I'm in the Southwest". At this point, my frustration level was high enough that it could have been a Southwest jet on a runway in India for all I cared.
She said there were 2 apps that had been submitted for me and the older one was problematic. She confirmed that there was a glitch with my original application that was preventing my identity from being verified. She said that since I was one of the first people to submit an application on the website that it is affected by a known technical issue that had been fixed on newer applications but old applications sometimes cannot get past certain check points. The fix is to create a new application and she could see the other agent from earlier yesterday had created a new application but it was unfinished since we had been disconnected.
We proceeded where the first agent left off. We muddled through the original questions that I had entered with the previous agent and she read to me all the questions on her screen and what I had answered then she asked if this was correct.
At one point we got to the exact same question where things went wrong with the first agent earlier that day. It was the question asking if my 9 year old son was married. I explained we became disconnected earlier and as she submitted the question she laughed, "Ok let's keep our fingers crossed" which made me laugh as well. She was actually being very helpful. Before she submitted it though, she assured me that supervisors are able to call people back and that if we became disconnected she would call me right back.
We got to the end of the application and she submitted it. It failed.
Several months earlier, it had asked me several questions to verify my identity. Questions related to things on public record such as "what model car I purchased and when and where" or "if I had lived at certain addresses" then a list would be provided that I needed to select from. I had answered those questions as honestly as I could but their data showed that I had lived at places that I had never lived. Oddly, some addresses were familiar to me. One address had been my wife's childhood address but I had never lived there. Apparently their data showed that I had lived there since it asked me to select a previous address of mine where the other addresses listed were complete fakes. My only two choices were to either select the address of my wife's childhood home or select "None of the Above". I selected "None of the Above" since I had never lived at that address. Apparently that was not what their data showed as correct and it flagged me as unverified.
Months ago, right after it failed to identify me, I called the toll free number that the web page provides when the website is not able to verify identity. The toll free number was to connect me with people who could verify my identity. When I called it, the people that answered said they had no resources in place to actually help me. They had confirmed I had called the correct number but did not know what they were supposed to do.
Now back to yesterday. Because my new application was not allowing this supervisor from getting past the 'verify identity' process, she told me that I should delete my old login with the website which would delete my 2 failed applications. She said I should wait 3 days then create a new username with a different email address. She felt this was my best bet for getting past what was stopping me. I asked if she could see my driver's license, birth certificate, and social security card and she confirmed they are images attached to my login there but they will be deleted when the login is deleted.
I asked what if that fails again...can I have someone in person help me? What if I was blind? She gave me the address of a place 5 miles from my house that could help me enter the data. I asked, "Do they use a system other than yours?" She said, "They also use the web site to enter data".
All those paths, of course, are reliant on the web site working. Whether you enter it yourself, the call center enters it, or a Navigator (in person) enters it...it has the same end result...failure.
I returned to the web site today and it is completely unavailable since it is being serviced.
I hope they are releasing the next 'new and Improved' site...because none of the others have worked at all for me so far.