My Experiences With HealthCare.Gov

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last several months, you’re likely aware that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) launch was a clusterfuck of gargantuan scale. That sort of language isn’t common here and it is used now to reinforce just how wretched of an experience it has been interacting with the ACA’s primary point of contact known as Nonetheless, after months of trying I was finally able to not only create an account but move through the entire enrollment process. Having said that, the process is still far from smooth.

The Process

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-041The gap between creating an account and finally being able to enter the enrollment process was three weeks but once the enrollment process was engaged, the site was plagued with caching problems that disabled navigating from one screen to another, especially those related to comparing plans. The only solution was logging out, clearing the browser cache, and starting the entire process all over again. Frustratingly enough, the problem was consistent across all major browsers.

The Interface

If nothing else, the one area where the site excelled was the user interface. Using various filters at enrollment pages was very simple and tooltip instructions were concise but complete. There were no major variations from one browser to the next while page load times were quick and responsive.

The only real negative is the site is not responsive so attempting to interact via tablet could be tricky and abandon any ideas about connecting via Smartphone.


Live Chat was never available during any of my time using HealthCare.Gov. Attempting to use it generated a boilerplate we’re too busy type of message encouraging users to get in touch early in the morning or late at night. I tried both of those options but the results were unchanged. The static help was a mixed bag, the glossary was thin (tooltips were better), telephone support was no better than the live chat and sure, you could pursue searching for a live help center but if you’re self employed or a small business owner, who has that much time to spend?


So long as you don’t mind the complete and utter lack of useful online or telephone support, HealthCare.Gov finally manages to deliver most of the original deliverables. Having said that, you should be prepared to bring the following virtues to the table in order to get through the process:

  • Patience: Set aside two or more hours thanks to a serious of lag-laden email notifications, server related glitches, and a dismal support structure.
  • Resourcefulness: Be ready to use ancillary online sources to help fill in information gaps.

Keep in mind, the above observations are related to the individual and family enrollment process and not the small business portion of HealthCare.Gov.

Thinking About Posting A Comment?

Terrific, discussion is always encouraged here at Adaptistration and I’m very keen to learn about reader experiences with the site, especially anyone who has gone through the process of purchasing coverage for a small business, but let me be very clear and state that I will not, under any circumstances, publish comments of a political nature. No jabs, no overt diatribes, no wink-wink, nod-nod caginess, etc. It doesn’t matter if you’re a conservative, liberal, republican, democrat, or whatever; go have those conversations elsewhere.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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3 thoughts on “My Experiences With HealthCare.Gov”

  1. The Empire State Building was constructed in 400 days. The US fought WWII for a bit more than 3-1/2 years. So, how long should a functioning commercial website take to create and test?

    OK. Now that that is out of my system, I must reveal that I didn’t have to use the federal site at all. Connecticut’s site worked well from the outset. Of course that was the end of the “good news”. To purchase “compliant coverage” at almost the same price I was paying, my family deductible would rise to $12700. To get a family deductible $1000 more than what I had ($5000) the premiums rose by almost $800 (67%) to about $2000/month.

    Fortunately for my family, Aetna allowed me to re-up for my current coverage in a non-compliant plan, effective in December 2013 to allow for a one-year reprieve, saving about $10000. That’s a rather lot of purchasing power remaining in the economy, I think. Much preferable to wasting money on a product I don’t need or want.

    • I’d be surprised if there aren’t a wide variety of different experiences with the actual results and prices. My results for a family of two ended up providing slightly better coverage than we currently have at a decrease of 6.7%. Granted, the rate we currently pay has been jacked up three time in the space of two years at more than three times that amount to begin with so the dollar value savings is, at best, relative.

      A bit of news I neglected to add to the main body of the story was the announcement that Kurt DelBene, a former executive at Microsoft, will take over overseeing the website. It will be intresting to see if he’s capable of implementing needed changes sooner rather than later.

  2. I won’t go into my specific experiences (aside from the disclosure that after the site had allegedly been “fixed,” my “eligibility results” produced a BLANK 12-page PDF, the content of which I had to wait on the phone for more than an hour to learn and a hard copy of which, two weeks later, I still have not received so I am unable to make an informed decision about our coverage options), but is an unmitigated disaster and an embarrassment to internet technology. I can only imagine how quickly or virtually any other online retailer or service provider would collapse launching a similar, glitch-ridden website in 2013.

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