Enrollment website frustrates uninsured Holly Springs man
Posted December 18, 2013
Updated December 24, 2013
Holly Springs, N.C. — Despite recent upgrades to HealthCare.gov, some Triangle residents said the process of enrolling for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act remains a frustrating proposition.
Ron Colovi of Holly Springs has been without health insurance for four years, so he eagerly went to the online marketplace to sign up for coverage for him, his wife and their 14-year-old son. He said he was disappointed at what he found.
"I've done a couple of things and basically found out the policies are too much a month. I can't afford it, Colovi said.
Based on his household income, the website told him his son has to be enrolled in CHIP, the state Children's Health Insurance Program. That means that Colovi wouldn't have to purchase coverage for him, but plans available for Colovi and his wife ran $627.64 to $860.70 a month.
Because their annual income is $34,000, the couple should be eligible for a federal subsidy to offset much of that premium. The calculator on HealthCare.gov indicates that they would pay no more than $156 a month for coverage.
Colovi said he's repeatedly called the HealthCare.gov help line and keeps getting different answers.
"The marketplace people say, basically, 'You're getting, you are not eligible for subsidy because your son already gets a subsidy through the state,'" he said.
WRAL News called the marketplace helpline Wednesday and described Colovi's situation. The operator said the Colovis should qualify for a subsidy and that he should delete his application and start over.
When Colovi called the helpline, another operator told him the application cannot be deleted until his request goes through the "Advanced Resolution Center."
He said he's fed up and will likely go without health insurance.
"It's frustrating. (You) either put food on table or have a place to live or do without health insurance. I've chosen to do without the health insurance and pay the penalty," he said.
Under the Affordable Care Act, most people are required to have health coverage starting next year or face a tax penalty of 1 percent of annual income or $95 per person, whichever is higher. That penalty will increase in subsequent years.
Update (Dec. 23, 2013): Colovi was able to start a new application with the help of a trained HealthCare.gov navigator, found that he does qualify for a federal subsidy and enrolled his family for insurance coverage.