The still broken Healthcare Exchange – More Bugs than an NSA target

by Timothy Imholt

For anyone who has read my blog posts you know I have opinions that really don’t fit with either of the two major political parties. I sit in a zone that is forgotten about largely called the common sense zone, and there is no place for that in government.

I have the Uncle Steve Imholt who recently retired. He spent multiple decades as a software engineer before becoming a software engineering manager for very large programs. He is no stranger to figuring out budgets, costs, and weaving his way through government forms. I should point out that many of the software programs he managed were for government contracts. The point is, if he can’t navigate through the hurdles of a Healthcare exchange program, who can?!?!?!?!

I got this email from him recently that made me wonder how we are all going to survive the “Affordable” Care Act Rollout. I won’t render any opinion on this entire healthcare law other than to say two things. There are some aspects of my family’s life that were once covered that now aren’t. The other is that the Allied Forces defeated Hitler during World War 2 in much less time than it is taking to get this healthcare exchange fixed.

 

Here is the emails, titled: NOT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT PAYING FOR HEALTH CARE COULD END UP KILLING ME.

 

It’s April 14, 2015 and I’m still struggling to finish my taxes. Why? Because I stopped working in September 2014.

I suppose you could call it retirement. But retirement wasn’t supposed to be so much like working.

You see, after working in IT for a long time. A good chunk of that was in health care, in both hospitals, and in the insurance side. So when 2014 hit with a ton of medical bills and retirement, I decided to itemize my health costs on my tax return. That meant I had to pull in a load of different documents from my company health savings account, the amounts I had to finance for my dentures, and about 19 different kinds of medical bills and payments. As I’m plowing through this I’m thinking, Thank God, I left COBRA in December and for 2015 only have Coventry obtained through the Healthcare.gov website.

You say so what? Well you’re going to hear the rest of the story.

I enrolled in the health coverage back in December to begin January 1. At that point, I wrote an email to the marketplace and attached a copy of my separation doc from employer saying I ended employment in September. In the email I said I believed my income would be about $70K for 2015 (a highly optimistic estimate). Using that figure the site came back with a really substantial subsidy. Still not sure how that happened, but what the heck.

In January I get a letter from the Health Insurance Marketplace saying I had not supplied sufficient documentation to justify I was earning only 70K. Actually I was unemployed until mid-February when I took a part time job because I needed to do something (retirement isn’t coming easy to me). I did the part time job for a couple of weeks but frankly, it was a lot more physical than I had originally thought. So I stopped working that and we (the wife and I) applied for early Social Security. So I used that information to send back an updated list with my pay stub from the part time job. I also indicated I thought I would be getting income as I needed from my IRA, to get me up to the 70K. This runaround eventually resulted in a long set of phone calls to the Marketplace to get my records updated – again.

I was told we were good to go.

Anyway, a week ago Friday, my wife gets notice from Social Security that her benefits would start in April for March (only the government can tell you in advance how much you are going to get for the past). Then Monday the 13th I get a call from the Social Security Admin asking why I wanted to delay getting my SS payments until April. I told the nice lady that I’d take them as soon as they could start them. While I may be dumb, I ain’t stupid.

So now I get to Tuesday. At 7PM on Tuesday I get an email from the Healthcare marketplace that I had failed to provide proper documentation on my income so I was no longer receiving the subsidy effective May 1. It was immediately followed into my in basket with an email stating that because of my recent application I could apply for benefits through June 15.

My initial reaction was HUH??? It was followed by lots of words, most of them unprintable, a few unintelligible.

I went and got a drink. Uncle Sam would have to wait until tomorrow for my taxes.

***

It’s now 3 AM on April 15, and I can’t sleep. So I get back up, finish plowing through the remainder of turbo tax and finally about 6:30 AM have them ready to e-file.

I go down, tell the wife, I think we are good to go on the taxes, but the health care was still a FUBAR.

I then make some coffee and spend a couple of minutes with my grandkids.

I decide it’s time to tackle the Health Insurance Marketplace emails. So I call the folks in London Kentucky. The support person after figuring out who I was, started looking through my files and decided that yes there was indeed a problem. She should get credit for keeping me from just starting to whimper in submission to the government.   As she worked to figure out what had happened, it dawned on her and I that the SS payments that my wife was going to get was the reason our coverage had gotten s rejected.

She basically said, this was going to happen all over again, when they received word I was going to receive social security.

I decided to let that problem wait. But I did log back into the health exchange to see that my new friend at the exchange had emailed me to say I had until June 1 to get everything fixed.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

On Thursday morning I got an email from TurboTax saying my tax return had been rejected.

I tell you that this whole thing about Obamacare cutting the cost of health care is true. I’ll be dead long before I should have been making it work.

 

Why did I want to air this publicly? I see no end of ads coming in the next election cycle about all the smooth rollout of this health insurance exchange system.

If this is smooth, I would hate to see bumpy.

 

Timothy Imholt is the author of several novels, including the newly released book THE FINAL WORLD WAR, written around the premise that Iran does get nuclear weapons and decides to use them in the fashion they have openly stated they wanted to.