Obamacare: This health website can raise your blood pressure


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The Independent US

“Cortney has left the chat session,” the box on my screen tells me. That Cortney (her spelling) has cleared off may be fair, since I’m the first to admit I have fat fingers when it comes to websites requiring usernames and passwords that I forget the instant I pick them.

“Thanks for contacting us, and we hope we’ve answered your questions. Have a great day,” comes the next message. “Err, not really,” I reply. 

Full disclosure, I am not being entirely straight in my cyber search for Obamacare coverage. I live in New York, one of the states that has created its own insurance website, so to experience the widely excoriated federal site, HealthCare.gov, I pretend to be in Florida. Maybe that dooms me from the start.

Let’s give it a spin. “The Health Insurance Marketplace is Open,” the opening page declares. I plunge in clicking “Apply Now” and then “Log in”. Not so fast, I have to “Create an Account” before I can proceed. Fair enough.

First, a series of questions to verify who I am down the road:  My favourite toy as a child? Lego. My favourite pet? Ramon. I’m making progress; never mind I’ve yet to be asked one question about my health. (Blood pressure? Up.)

That’s when a message tells me I’ve hit the cyber buffers and can’t go further. I scroll back to re-enter the username and password to see if I can start again.

“The information you have entered isn’t valid.” Bloody well is.  A panel tells me to ring a toll-free number where a recorded message suggests the cyber chat button back on the website. Cortney, to her credit, pops up at once and I explain my problem.  It’s amazing how quickly she responds.

“We have a lot of visitors trying to use our website right now. This is causing some glitches for some people trying to create accounts, log in or during the application process. Keep trying, and thanks for your patience. You might have better success during off-peak hours, like later at night or early in the morning!” 

Maybe not.