Now, navigating Healthcare.gov is proving equally confusing. Just getting the home page to open was hard, then it turned out that the instructions for choosing a username are defective. The stipulations (6-74 characters, a numeral, “one of these symbols _.@/-,”) include “must contain a lowercase or capital letter.” Swiping a lock of blonde hair out of her eyes, Ms. Munier sees the list of instructions and mutters, “Oh, Lord, have mercy.” Then she has an idea: “I wonder if they mean a lowercase and a capital.” Bingo.
To determine whether she is eligible for subsidies, the site prods Ms. Munier to enter her projected 2014 income. She expects to make $60,000 this year but isn’t sure. If she makes $60,000 from renting a house and work she does as an early-childhood education consultant, she will barely qualify for a subsidy. Mr. Myint advises her against making an educated guess. If she gets a subsidy and then winds up making more money than expected, she will have to repay the excess.
After about an hour, dozens of plans for which Ms. Munier and her daughter qualify appear on the screen. On average, the plans she’s looking at hover around $400 per month, but with deductibles far higher than her old policy—up to $11,000 more. “That seems astronomical,” she says.
Mr. Myint is prohibited from steering her toward one plan or another, and Ms. Munier, saying it’s all too confusing, wants more time to look over her options. For today, she doesn’t enroll on the exchange.
It’s a familiar experience for Mr. Myint. After starting Oct. 1, when the exchanges went live, his organization was aiming to sign up 5,800 people by the end of March 2014. It has a long way to go.
“We have yet to see an application from start to finish,” he says.