Obamacare enrollment so difficult it gets its own grad course

Sarah Hurtubise | Reporter

Enrolling in Obamacare may be more difficult than anybody thought.

The University of Texas at Austin’s spring 2014 course offerings include a graduate course on navigating Obamacare exchange enrollment. The university’s LBJ School of Public Affairs will give aspiring PhD students academic credit for examining the Obamacare enrollment process.

The Public Affairs department aspires to “improving the quality of public service in the United States.” Presumably taking a deeper look at how consumers can manage to navigate HealthCare.gov will further the improvement of Obamacare as a public program.

The class, entitled “Enrolling in Health Insurance Through the Affordable Care Act: An Austin Case Study,” will take a look at the Texas experience through the federally run exchange at HealthCare.gov.

The 60000-level course corresponds to a second-year graduate course — because of course, the enrollment process meant for the average American can only be understood by someone with five or more years of higher level education under their belt.

Customers have reported disastrous experiences with Obamacare enrollment so far. Those with questions about navigating the website have been sent to Obamacare call centers, only to have the phone service direct them back online.

The Spanish-language version of HealthCare.gov, CuidadoSalud.gov, is still not ready for use over a month after its expected launch date. Though the website is finally running, online enrollment is not — a huge hit for any native Spanish speakers in the city, whose population was one-third Hispanic in 2010.

After several weeks of spotty service, problems with making accounts and signing in, unavailable information and incorrect pricing, Healthcare.gov experienced a complete outage Sunday.

A data center that routes sensitive information to the Obamacare exchange shut down Sunday due to “connectivity issues,” according to federal officials. The Verizon Terremark data center connected exchanges with the Federal Data Services Hub, a massive data collection and sharing program that provides all Obamacare exchanges with the sensitive consumer information they need to verify insurance applications.

The company got the center back online Monday, but not before bringing enrollment in all 5o states to a standstill for a full day.

With problems piling up in every area of Obamacare enrollment, it’s no wonder that at least one university has started to study how consumers are getting through the system, or if they are at all.

The federal government has not yet released official enrollment numbers for the federal exchange, though some states have begun to estimate enrollment on their own. Texas has not yet released any enrollment data from participating insurers.

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