Thursday, December 19, 2013

Complications in Making Changes in Covered California (Obamacare)

          Register, Enroll, Pay, get medical insurance coverage. If only it was that simple. I should be done with this by now and I never expected to blog so much about Obamacare as I have already. I've even run out of blog ideas this week until this came along. To add a quote by Michael Corleone from the film The Godfather - Part 2, " Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in". Sometimes things just don't work in a logical manner. As Spock would say "It's not logical Jim".
          Case in point: I originally registered with for Obamacare on the day before I got laid off and picked Anthem Blue Cross Silver Plan because that was what I thought I could afford based on the federal subsidy discounts. Then of course the day after, I got laid off, so I made changes on my projected income in the Covered California website. No income would have meant I qualified for Medi-Cal and a few weeks later, I received a letter from Covered California saying so.
          I patiently waited for Medi-Cal to send me more information. When none arrived several weeks later, I finally called the Los Angeles County Medi-Cal phone number that Covered California gave to me in their letter. I was able to speak to a nice lady named Heidi S. who asked me for my updated income and she was able to update that information. However, it was based on a whole year of me receiving unemployment benefits which disqualified me for Medi-Cal. Well, those benefits are only supposed to last for 6 months but the system didn't allow for this, so Heidi said that when my benefits expire in April, I can call them again so they can qualify me for Medi-Cal. She was also able to let me log in to the Covered California website again (remember I was locked out of the system) by giving me an access code and merging a new username and password with my old one. Strange system isn't it? Heidi asked me to upload my new income information but we encountered another glitch - the system would not accept the upload and said to contact system administrator. Heidi told me that they have been able to work around this problem and she had me upload my EDD unemployment benefits data to the California proof of residency link instead. That worked and she was able to qualify me for Obamacare based on reduced income. This reduced income would have enabled me to enroll in a cheaper coverage because of a higher federal subsidy. But then the system would not let me make changes on the original Anthem Blue Cross I was enrolled in. Heidi said she was going to ask her supervisor about this and call me back.
          In the meantime, I got on the treadmill and did a 45 minute hill walk/jog while waiting. I got Heidi's call back after I finished my workout and she said they couldn't do the changes from their end and that I would have to call Covered California. Being pig headed, I tried to make changes in the website myself by inputting everything from the beginning and with the new income that Heidi had helped me with. When it came to the enrollment part and after I tried choosing a new insurance plan, the system still didn't reflect any changes and kept it with Anthem Blue Cross. Believe me, I tried 3 times.
          After lunch, I called the primary Covered California number which gave a very prolonged message in English and Spanish telling me to call another toll free number. I did and the system told me that the waiting time would be more than 30 minutes. I hanged up and called Anthem to find out if they can do it on their end. I was told that Covered California still haven't sent my information to them and until then, they couldn't do anything. I tried Healthnet too and asked them if they can help me enroll directly. They said they could not. It was back to the Covered California phone number then.

          I watched a movie, read the news, surfed the web and waited. Thank goodness I was able to figure out how to listen to the elevator music on my computer speakers instead of holding the phone on my ear. After almost an hour, an agent finally answered the phone. Well I'll be darned but if it wasn't Tony whom I had spoken to about three weeks before about resetting my password and updating my income. I recognized him by his name and accent. He wasn't able to help me several weeks ago, but this time he said he would be able to change my insurance choice. He said that the system doesn't allow for the consumer to make the changes because otherwise people would keep on doing it if they were not satisfied. He made the changes in his computer then I tried to log in to see them. The system would not let me do it. Tony gave me another number that I can call to reset my password and also gave me a California State Client I.D. number which he said would help me in the future. After we hanged up, I emptied the cache of my browser and tried to log in again. Surprise, surprise, I was able to! It looks like Covered CA will not let me log in when agent is logged in and is using or updating my data.  It showed the changes that Tony made and I was now supposedly enrolled in Healthnet Platinum Plan instead of Anthem Blue Cross Silver Plan. Even though I didn't get the free Medi-Cal insurance I had hoped for, because of the higher federal subsidy, I was able to get better coverage for lesser money with Healthnet. Thank you so much Tony! Now I have to wait for Healthnet to bill me and send me my enrollment information. Then in April, if I'm still unemployed, I can try for Medi-Cal again.
          With all the complications and glitches I've experienced so far, I should be in critical condition by now.

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Leah Falls said...

I'm having a lot of problems with Covered California as well... I enrolled into a Health Net at the start of the new year because I wasn't going to be eligible until March 1st for my work's coverage. So I enrolled. I chose a Health Net Silver plan, only like $50 a month with the tax assistance and went on my way. I had to change my birthday, because initially when I enrolled, I had accidentally inputted it wrong, No big deal. Then I got a raise at work. Changed that, no big problem. Until, all of a sudden, my coverage was cancelled... And everyone is pointing the finger. Now my medical bills aren't being paid and it's so frustrating! I still don't know what to do at this point.

Noel DLP said...

Sorry to hear about your unfortunate situation. Have you tried calling their number? I know the wait is very long but sometimes they are able to take care of things faster that way. This was my latest update from last month: