Friday, October 18, 2013

Success with the NY state Obamacare exchange

Wow, I finally succeeded in getting a New York state Obamacare account and application set up so that I am finally able to see plans and prices. The full price range is $307 to $1,121. Bronze plans range from $307 to $407 with a $3,000 deductible. Platinum plans range from $443 to $1,121 with no deductible. Excluding United HealthCare plans, the highest platinum premium is $649 per month.
Until today I had an account that I could log into, but was unable to finish the application process. I had called customer service last week, described the problem, they put me on hold, and reasonably quickly came back and told me that they were aware of the problem, were working on it, but I would just have to try "later".
The problem was that I would log in and if I tried to view plans, the system would simply insist that my application was not complete, give me a button to continue where I left off, but clicking that button simply took me to the last page of the application process where all I could do is initial the application, check the fine print, and then click on the "Finish" button. I would do all of that, but the system would unceremoniously dump me out to the main "Individual" screen and not let me view or select any plans. Rinse and repeat, but no change.
The good news is that the long delays of the first week were resolved. IOW, I could quickly do nothing.
Also, even in the first week, I did not experience any long hold times with customer service.
I tried to complete my application every day, to no avail, but today I called customer service as before, described the problem, and once again they said they were still working on it. But... this time they suggested that I should create a brand new account and try again. Actually, I was going to suggest that myself since I was concerned that the many timeouts in the first few days may have left my account in some unworkable state.
So, I created a new account, which was reasonably fast and pain-free, and everything worked fine. And then I finished the application process and could see plans and prices.
Actually, there is still one glitch – it asks me if my 2014 income will be the same as in 2012 and will only prompt me for my expected 2014 income if I answer "Yes", when the answer is really "No." IOW, they have the yes and no options wired backwards, at least for my scenario.
And, meanwhile, my original "zombie" account is still out there, lifeless but not quite dead.
The real bottom line is that I will continue to be self-insured in 2014 and beyond since the penalty for not carrying insurance is still significantly less than $1,000 less than the penalty. That's the economic rule that I have decided to use.
Although, since I am 59, I'm not too many years away from Medicare.
Meanwhile, I continue to make semi-regular $25 monthly donations to the U.S. Treasury to pay down the federal debt.
BTW, I am thoroughly amused by the extent to which the White House itself has adopted the use of the term "Obamacare." For example, see:

-- Jack Krupansky