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my experience with Obamacare/CoveredCA
Old 10-07-2014, 06:38 PM   #1
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my experience with Obamacare/CoveredCA

I left my fulltime job in August (hooray) and decided to apply for health insurance through the California exchange, CoveredCA. I was able to sign up for a Kaiser Permanente Bronze high-deductible plan, and the web site said it would submit my info to Kaiser and that Kaiser would bill me directly. The deadline for paying the bill and thus being enrolled was 4 business days before the end of the month. My application was submitted near the beginning of September; coverage according to the web site was scheduled to start October 1st.

Well, so far I've gotten a confirmation letter from CoveredCA saying that I'm qualified to sign up for a health plan (which the web site had already told me), but have heard nothing from Kaiser. I've been calling Kaiser every few days to see if I'm in their system so I can pay my premium. A couple reps have said this slowness is unfortunately normal, it can take 4-6 weeks for coveredca to send the info.

I've also been calling CoveredCA every few days. If I call right when the phone lines open at 8am, it seems I can usually wait on hold for an hour and eventually get a rep. During the day, several times they've just played a recording that says they're experiencing high call volumes and to try again later, goodbye. The coveredca reps have been unable to say why Kaiser doesn't have my info yet (they recommend I keep calling Kaiser), but the last rep said he'd submit a ticket to escalate my case to a supervisor, who might be able to contact me in a week or so.

In a couple of weeks, my special enrollment period of 60 days from my loss of health insurance is going to run out. No idea whether that will invalidate my application. My backup plan is if I haven't heard anything a few days before that, to apply for COBRA and hope that I don't have to pay the COBRA premium before the CoveredCA issue gets resolved. I could also pay the COBRA premium and try to sign up for CoveredCA again during open enrollment in November. I predict much confusion if that happens. Plus, the COBRA premiums would be twice as costly as the CoveredCA Bronze Plan (no subsidies).

Overall, my experience with the California exchange has been pretty frustrating so far. Just wanted to share a data point.

If anyone does have any ideas for other things to try, I'm all ears.
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Old 10-07-2014, 09:00 PM   #2
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If you are not eligible for a subsidy, you could enroll directly through Kaiser and that would cut the delays from coveredca. Switch to covered-ca for the next enrollment period.

I had to call covered-ca in sept to check up on my eligibility documentation. The wait time was 1 hour during the middle of the day. You could also try online chat -- the one time I tried that it was only about a 20min wait.
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Old 10-08-2014, 10:19 AM   #3
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Why would you expect a government run insurance program to be any different then the attentive service we receive from the Department of Motor Vehicles?

I agree with photoguy that you can bypass the state exchange since you aren't going for the subsidy. That's the only reason you would want to go through covered california.
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Old 10-08-2014, 01:08 PM   #4
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You pay the same, using a lic. broker to enroll in a covered ca plan. When the system was first starting up, covered ca was openly advising to use a lic broker, in person.
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Old 10-08-2014, 01:12 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2B View Post
Why would you expect a government run insurance program to be any different then the attentive service we receive from the Department of Motor Vehicles?

I agree with photoguy that you can bypass the state exchange since you aren't going for the subsidy. That's the only reason you would want to go through covered california.
The CA DMV service at the counter is very good, aside from undersized parking lot and 45 min. - hour wait (explains the parking lot issue ).
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Old 10-08-2014, 02:01 PM   #6
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I had a similar experience signing on with KP through coveredca, but it all worked out in the end. It appears to take 4-6 weeks for KP to get a new applicant in the system, but I was told that coverage extended back to the application date. You probably don't need to worry.
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Old 10-08-2014, 02:23 PM   #7
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If you make an appointment in advance you can be in and out of a CA DMV office in less than 20 minutes. This has been my experience for about the last 20 years.
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Old 10-08-2014, 03:47 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the suggestions.

I should clarify - it's possible I will be eligible for a subsidy in 2015, which is why I applied through the exchange. In retrospect, maybe I should have gone through Kaiser directly for now, then used the exchange during open enrollment in November.

I tried the CoveredCA online chat once, and though the wait was shorter, the rep couldn't do anything useful for my case. He recommended I call the phone line.

TimSF, thanks for reporting that your application worked out in the end. For now I'm leaning toward waiting to see if the CoveredCA app goes through, using the COBRA backup if needed.

I've had reasonable experiences at several DMV offices in the last few years, always making an appointment.

Again, thanks to all who responded - really appreciate the feedback.
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Old 10-08-2014, 04:21 PM   #9
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I enrolled last year when I retired in Dec 2013, it was the first year and it was not as bad as you experienced, even though I am not qualified for subsidy I am enrolled in Covered CA. I am with Blue Shield, overall I have had no problem except with paying my premium through their website. Twice I thought my payment went through only to receive letters informing me that my CC rejected the charges Now I call their toll free number to pay my premium.


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Old 10-09-2014, 06:37 PM   #10
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I'm pretty sure that anyone who knocks the CA DMV has never been there. The number of people that the pump through that system is amazing. I have yet to see a private industry that meets that level of efficiency. I had to replace a lost driver's license once. I was in, out and back to my car in 13 minutes. It puts Target to shame.

Call Kaiser and sign up. If you wind up getting double billed, then you can sort that out afterwards.
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Old 10-14-2014, 10:47 AM   #11
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Update: I called Kaiser today and am finally in their system! Paid my premium over the phone and coverage is retroactive to the date specified in my original application. I never did hear back from a CoveredCA supervisor about my escalated case though.
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