Americans looking to enroll in the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges are beginning to find themselves trapped in a never-ending cycle of frustration as Obama’s instructions to call the marketplace’s hotline land them back at healthcare.gov.
While addressing the nation on the glitches plaguing healthcare.gov on Monday, President Obama directed those looking to enroll in the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges to register via the site’s toll-free number: 1-800-318-2596. But as many flocked to the phones to test out the number per Obama’s advice, they were met with a message directing them back to healthcare.gov — if they actually got through.
“But the point is, the call centers are available, you can talk to somebody directly and they can walk you through the application process,” Obama said during his speech. “And I guarantee, if one thing’s worth the wait, it’s the safety and security of health care that you can afford or the amount of money that you can save by buying health insurance through the marketplaces.”
Upon dialing the marketplace’s hotline — what is supposed to be an easy and fast alternative to healthcare.gov’s long waits and malfunctions — an operator instructs enrollees to speak the state they reside in. Then, an automated voice asks users if they would like information on the marketplace, small business options or “checklist.”
Once more information on the marketplaces is requested, the operator directs those looking to enroll to head to healthcare.gov for more information. According to The Washington Examiner’s Phillip Klein, users must select “checklist” to speak with an agent.
But not all are directed to healthcare.gov.
According to multiple reports, some calling in actually reach an agent — only to be told it takes two weeks to process information, according to one account; options cannot be shared over the phone, in another; and an application must be filled out online, in a third instance.
The Obama administration has shifted the focus of signing up for health insurance from healthcare.gov to registering over the phone as the site remains in repair. And healthcare.gov includes a new directive — added over the weekend — encouraging users to apply by phone. Additionally, a blog post published Monday reminds visitors of the three other ways they can apply: by phone, by mail and in person.
But the experience of signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is quickly turning into a endless conundrum — head to healthcare.gov, get directed to call the toll-free number. Call 1-800-318-2596, receive instructions to head to healthcare.gov.
The question remains when will it end?