Frustrated with health website, family may skip insurance, pay fine
Posted October 22, 2013
Updated October 23, 2013
Mount Olive, N.C. — A Mount Olive family is so fed up with trying to obtain health insurance through the government's Affordable Care Act website that they are considering paying the penalty to go without insurance next year.
HealthCare.gov has been plagued by technical problems since Oct. 1, when people could start comparing insurance plans and enroll for 2014 coverage. The health care law requires most people in the U.S. to have insurance, starting next year, or pay either $95 per person or 1 percent of annual income, whichever is greater.
Wendy and Eddie Davidson and their 17-year-old son have been without insurance for seven years. The couple own a yard equipment repair shop, and they felt insurance was too expensive.
They were eager to shop for coverage through the online health exchange, but that quickly faded as frustration mounted over the enrollment process.
"They make it out like it's so easy and you can shop for all these insurances, and we've just not found that's the case at all," Wendy Davidson said Tuesday.
Eddie Davidson has been trying to navigate HealthCare.gov for three weeks without success.
"Every day, he would start in the morning before he went to work," his wife said. "Then, he would try again at lunchtime. Then, go on at night. This went on for a long time."
She finally told him to take a break and let her try. The website stymied her as well, so she tried to enroll over the phone.
"When I started doing the application over the phone, the first day I was on there for 45 minutes, and the lady's computer locked up," she said. "She asked me to try again next day or so, so I did. I was on the phone for two hours and some minutes, and her computer locked up too."
Wendy Davidson said she asked a week ago that an application to be mailed to her, but it still hasn't arrived. She called Tuesday and was told one wouldn't be mailed until November.
"You're just ready to give up," she said. "I'm really ready to start calling insurance companies myself and just forget it."
Eddie Davidson wants to go a step further and skip the whole process.
"'I know,' he says, 'Let's just pay the penalty at least for this year and be done with it,'" Wendy Davidson said.
There are two other options for people experiencing similar frustrations with HealthCare.gov. A paper application can be downloaded from the website and then mailed in upon completion, and so-called "navigators" across the country have been trained to help people complete an application. Local navigators are listed on the website.