Yesterday, I found that the "beating heart" needs a defibrillator to bring any life to it.
Believe it or not, I am a man of passion and perseverance so guess what?
Yep, I tried it again today.
Wasn't it Albert Einstein that defined insanity as "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"?
Call me Mr. Insanity because I entered all of my account information again, set up my password and username, checked off my security questions and had high hopes that this time the website might work.
Come on and join me in singing: "He had high hopes, he had high hopes, he had high in the sky apple pie hopes".
Hey, I just wanted to make sure.
You can guess the outcome: My favorite bright red bar that says "Important: Your account couldn't be created at this time. The system is unavailable."
Anyway, like I said in my last blog, there were two options to figure this out.
1. I could click on the ever-looming "LIVE CHAT" button in the lower corner or
2. I could "man-up" and call the 1-800-318-2596 number I found by clicking on the "Contact Us" tab.
For you guys, I made the call and today you get to laugh along with me.
That's a very good sign.
At least the number listed is correct.
As expected, their is a short explanation in Spanish for those citizens in the U.S. population majority who don't speak English.
Then the resounding voice at the other end of the line says: "What state are you from?"
Are you talking to me?
There is no instruction on how to answer or maybe I missed it in the Spanish instructions (Man, I have to hurry up and complete my Rosetta Stone Spanish Speaking program).
There is just dead air space.
No "Press Uno" for Alabama or "Press Dos" for Arizona or "Press Cinquenta" for Wisconsin.
No "speak into the phone"
No "tap it out in Morse code on your keypad".
There was just dead air space.
Luckily, I can rely on my 12 years of college education and intensive intuition in times of confusion like this so I blurted out into the phone......"ARIZONA".
Bingo, the resounding voice on the other end begins to speak.
It gave me two options:
1. Directing me back to the website.....Hey, I'm way to smart to go back there again.......... yet.......... or
2. Remain on the line to speak with a "Marketplace Representative".
Not so fast Buckaroo!
Pretty quickly I am connected with a little less than English sounding gentleman.
And by English, I mean a citizen of the United States or even England or any other predominately English speaking nation in the world outside of India.
He was/is named either Brian or Brandon or some such since I really couldn't pick it up through his heavy "Non-English" accent and the named changed as well as our conversation advanced.
Alright Bro, I'm thinking to myself, let's get this thing started.
First Question: "May I have you telephone number?"
You got it Brandon/Brian/Buddy..........it's 623-***-****.
Second Question: "What is your last name?"
This is easy and relevant I'm thinking.
I reply confidently.........."Lickus".
Third Question: "What is your first name?"
"Jay" I replied.
"That's unique" replied Brandon/Brian/Buddy.
I'm thinking..........What the hell are you talking about "That's unique?"
It's the 388th most popular baby name in 2013.
I don't see that as being "unique".
Maybe where you come from it's "unique" and why did you have to let me know how you felt about my name in the first place?
Is it a government requirement that you comment on everybody's name that calls the HealthCare hotline?
Sorry, I got off track there folks........back to our conversation.
"Please spell that for me"
"S U R P R I S E"
"What state do you live in?"
"Arizona"....Didn't I already give that information at the start of the call?
Hey wait a second I'm thinking.........You find my name "Jay" to be "unique" but not the city I live in "Surprise?"
Just a few more questions and Brian/Barney/Brennan informs me that "He will help me now to create an account in the HealthCare.Gov System Health Insurance Marketplace."
Things are starting to sound a little "scripted."
Soooo, Brian/Barney/Brennan begins to ask me the exact same set of questions over again.
I had to interject and ask why the repetition. He said he was in a completely different website now.
I asked if I could have the address to this website so I could finish up my application on-line because I could feel myself aging quickly.
Mr. "B", as I will refer to Brian/Bernard/Bertram from now on stated that this website was a site that only "customer service" could use.
Damn, foiled by the government again so we plodded on.
As we swing into the 11:00 o'clock hour, my conversation with Mr. B is starting to pick up steam and progressing smoothly so I will only give you what I felt were a few of the highlights.
Some questions made sense, others not so much.
"Will I file a tax return in 2014"
I guess, if I have to.
Are you married? No.
Do you have any dependents that you will put on your insurance program? No.
Do you have any children under the age of 21? No.
Are any of the children under the age of 21 that are living at home being classified as "dependents" on your previous tax returns? No.
Does anyone under the age of 21 live in your household that you consider a "dependent"? No.
Like I said earlier things were sounding "scripted."
Are you a "dependent" on anyone else's tax returns? No.
His reply: "There are lots of questions left sir."
He wasn't kidding.
And this is where the "One Moment Please" activity began to be noticeable.
Mr. B would say "One moment please" after every response I gave, put me on hold for a few seconds then proceed with each new question.
As he returned from each brief repose he would restart our conversation with a bold and forceful sounding question "Sir?"
It was like he was afraid I had left or had expired from boredom.
So we proceeded through a couple dozen more questions each highlighted with Mr. B's response of "One moment please" and his return to the phone of "Sir?"
"What race are you?" "5K maybe 10K on a good day.........PAUSE.......wait for it.......... Just kidding, do you mean "Caucasian?"
Then there was a rash of 10 or so financial questions that made sense to the purpose of this exercise.
But Mr. B's script found a way to get off track again.
"Do any family members live with you under the age of 21?" What again? No !!!
"Are you American Indian or Native?"
"Are you kidding me? I already told you that I am Caucasian.
Mr. B begins to read me a list of rules and regulations on using the healthcare marketplace.
OK, that sounds good Bro, is that it?
Now, sir we are on to "Step 5" and how you would like to handle the renewal of your coverage in future years.
"Will you be filing tax returns in the future?"
I'm thinking..........not if I am in prison for tracking you down and chewing off all of your fingers so you can't have this same scenario with some other poor unsuspecting U.S. citizen.
A half dozen more questions and we get my future sorted out and Mr. B lets me know that the "first part of the application is complete."
And..........wait for it........................"We are on to Appendix C."
Where in the heck did appendixes A and B go and didn't the natural progression of questioning lead to a "Step 6"?
It was at this point that I asked Mr. B if he could just cover the most important topics of the application since I needed to shave again.
A couple of times he actually stayed on the line and I could hear him under his breath say things like: "OK, we can skip the employment status section", the "nationality section" and "we will bypass the "People living with me and dependents section."
I guess that 5 or 6 different ways I explained to him earlier in our conversation that I was "white", "unemployed" and "had zero dependents" had finally kicked in.
"One Moment Please....I will now be saving your application."
I fell back into an exhausted state of accomplishment dreaming about how much my life was going to change once Mr. B had successfully saved my application.
I was rudely jolted back to reality with "Sir?"
Yeeesssss, I asked tentatively.
"Sir, congratulations. Your application will now be reviewed and a determination will be made on what types of healthcare programs I qualify for." You will be sent an email shortly outlining the extent of your eligibility and the different coverages I can apply for."
"Have a great day Mr. LUCAS."
That's the best you got?
Overall, this experience took a mere 58 minutes to conclude.
I wonder what fingers taste like?
Shame on me for expecting better.
Hopefully, you will join me on my next blog as I open up the emails sent to me by Mr. B and we analyze the healthcare programs I qualify for and what the cost structures will be as we take a further journey into this nightmare.
Thanks for joining me.......................................................