I first tried to enroll my wife in an Exchange plan a couple of days after the launch. I had registered her on Healthcare.gov several weeks earlier, so did not have any problems with the initial registration bottleneck that so many hit. We live in Illinois, which has set up an exchange but uses the federal website for the selection process. I got through all the personal info stuff and got an eligibility email with no problem the first time I visited the site. But then I hit what must have been one of the “glitches.” After answering the question about does anyone in the household use tobacco, the site said I needed to review my application. When I clicked on the link to do so, it sent me to another page with a button to “continue application.” When I clicked that, it sent me back to the one saying I needed to review the application. I recognized it as a fairly simple programming error, and with all the publicity about “glitches” just figured I'd wait a while. Two days ago I returned to the site and could not log in. It just kept re-displaying the login screen. I realize now the site was probably down for upgrades. RECOMMENDATION: use a temporary redirect to display a page saying that. I figured maybe I had my password wrong, and since I had tried several times, I had probably locked the account, as is typical with most sites. It never gave me a message to that effect, but I went ahead and clicked “forgot password” anyway, and got the email to reset it. When I attempted the reset, it asked the security questions, which I guess I fumbled with a typo – I knew the answers but it said I got one wrong. No biggie, but it did not give me another chance. I was then given http errors that I was not allowed to see the pages. RECOMMENDATION: let people have at least one more shot at the questions – they can go get their notes and type more carefully. What I did was clear cache and restart my browser, return to the site, click “forgot password” again, get a new email with link, and repeat the process. This time I got the password reset. So I clicked “resume application” and got to the “you need to review...” page. It behaved the same way. This was disappointing, since they had been fixing glitches for weeks and this seemed like an important one. So I called the help number. A very pleasant woman asked where I was in the process, and asked if I had clicked “Set” on the “answer questions about your family” button. I said I had, weeks ago. And it did not appear to be active, since when I hovered the mouse pointer over it nothing changed. She said click it anyway. I did, answered the tobacco question again, and this time the “select plan button was activated and the “you need to review” message was gone. So they HAD fixed it. It seems though that I was in a state I should never have been able to get in, and I needed to re-answer the tobacco question to get back into the intended workflow. RECOMMENDATION: Use the “hover” function to show what buttons are active. RECOMMENDATION: When making fixes like this, if possible, try to publish advice like the re-answering the tobacco question. I know that is difficult to do for every issue, but maybe just an informational panel recommending that if you had trouble in the past, go back a step or two instead of continuing to hit the same wall... Anyway, I was then able to see all the plans for my state and start the comparison shopping process. We did not select one and enroll but will do so this weekend after further study.
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