Obama’s 1-800 number doesn’t work

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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In lieu of a functioning website, President Obama has begun hawking ObamaCare’s 1-800 number.

During a recent speech in the Rose Garden, he said: “We’re also redoubling our efforts to make sure you can still buy the same quality affordable insurance plans available on the marketplace the old-fashioned way, offline — either over the phone or in person.”

This implies that if the website doesn’t work, you can still purchase health insurance over the phone. The problem is, you really can’t. At least, not easily. You have to wait (possibly months) to obtain eligibility. Then you have to call them back. And then…who knows?

So not even the “workaround” is working — at least, not according to Dave Petno, an Ohio-based Employee Benefits Consultant and Certified Health Care Reform Professional who has been documenting his Healthcare.gov travails on his (functioning) web site.

In recent days, Petno has noted that it’s a 10-step process to obtain health care coverage, and that the operators can’t even give you a specific timeframe for when they will even respond (other than to say you will have a chance to enroll by January 1).

Most importantly, they won’t even give you a specific quote for your health insurance over the phone (though there is a rough estimator on the website.) So the notion that you can actually easily sign up for health care coverage by calling the 1-800 number seems to be overstated. “The phone call is Rube Goldberg 2.0,” Petno tells me during a phone interview.

Here’s an example of the kind of conversations Petno has been having with the operators. (You can listen to all of them here):

Matt K. Lewis