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Billings Resident Attempts to Interact with the New Healthcare Exchange Website

A NewsTalk 95.5 listener Adam Steadman recently tried to access the new Health Insurance exchange website, Healthcare.gov. There have been numerous reports about people being almost completely shut out of the new website.

Adam, like many others, turned to the included support system designed to help citizens resolve their issues with the insurance exchange website. He shared with us his experience and chat log from his attempts to interact with the website’s support system. Click below to see what happened.

Adam Steadman: After being unable to get the new healthcare.gov website to work this morning, I waited online for 30 minutes to chat with one of the still employed gov’t workers to find out how to sign up. Here’s a copy of my chat with “Gina”:

[10:17:14 am*]: Thanks for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. Please wait while we connect you to someone who can help.

[10:26:25 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:27:15 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:28:11 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:29:15 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:29:52 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:30:43 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:31:32 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:33:17 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:34:17 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:35:19 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:36:23 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:37:12 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:38:21 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:39:13 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:40:26 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:41:22 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:42:22 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[10:43:22 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.

[10:45:46 am*]: Welcome! You’re now connected to Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. Thanks for contacting us. My name is Gina. To protect your privacy, please don’t provide any personal information, like Social Security Number, or any other sensitive medical or personal information.

Note that it took 21 minutes from the time Adam requested to chat with a support representative to enter the chat room.

[10:46:28 am]: Gina -  Are you looking for information about health insurance in the state you live in, or a different state?

[10:50:20 am]: Adam - The state I live in.

[10:50:20 am]: Adam - I’m trying to setup an account so I can register for a health care plan, but the site keeps saying, “The system is unavailable.” I just tried AGAIN, and now the security questions don’t come up so I can’t continue.

[10:53:19 am]: Adam -  Hello?

[10:55:36 am]: Adam - Looks like this chat system doesn’t work any better than the website.

[10:56:30 am]: Gina -Thanks for your interest in the Health Insurance Marketplace. We have a lot of visitors trying to use our website right now. That is causing some glitches for some people trying to create accounts or log in. 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. We’ll continue working to improve the site so you can get covered!”

[10:57:21 am]: Adam - Do I have ANY other option? Can I speak to someone?

[10:58:42 am]: Gina - Marketplace call center at 1-800-318-2596

[10:59:23 am]: Adam – Can they give me price quotes, etc.?

[11:01:20 am]: Gina – They can assist you with comparing prices.

[11:03:05 am]: Adam - OK. Last question… can they actually sign me up today without having to use the broken website?

[11:04:54 am]: Gina - No, you have to have an active account to enroll into a plan though the Marketplace.

[11:06:42 am]: Adam - Ok… so really no point in spending any more time on this until the website works?

[11:08:35 am]: Gina - I apologize for your inconvenience.

[11:09:31 am]: Adam - How do I get a transcript of this chat? Would like my congressional reps to see how great this is working.

[11:11:54 am]: Gina - To print this chat you should Copy the chat and paste into a word document or notepad and print from there. Unfortunately, we do not have a print chat button and must use a manual process.

[11:13:44 am]: Adam - Lol. Ok. Good luck with the rest of your day. Hey… at least you’re getting paid.

[11:14:14 am]: Gina - Thank you for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. We are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

So not exactly a strong vote of confidence for this new system. Obviously any new system is going to have issues upon being rolled out. But why wasn’t this level of activity anticipated by our government? Did they even bother to do any stress testing?

What’s been your experience so far with the new Healthcare Exchange website? Share it with us in the comments.

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