It's 10 a.m. on Monday, and veterinarian Dr. Rob Braquet is in between patients. In these rare spare minutes, he is going to attempt to enroll in the Federal Healthcare Exchange, for the fourth time since it opened.
"I hope that I can maintain my existing level of coverage at about the same price," said Braquet.
Braquet owns a small veterinary practice in Gonzales. His current health insurance is through the American Veterinary Medical Association and underwritten by New York Life. Unfortunately, he learned a few months ago that as of the New Year, that company is no longer offering health insurance. He says pre-existing conditions have made it difficult to find health insurance in the past, so the Federal Exchange seemed like a good solution.
However, he has not had much success. So on this day, he tries again. He doesn't get far when a page pops up, explaining that the website is busy and asking him to wait patiently for his turn. Ten minutes later, he is allowed to proceed.
It takes several attempts to create a user name and password that is accepted by the system before he finally reaches a page that asks for security questions, a tool to help protect user information.
However, that is where his journey into health insurance will end for the day. The next page tells him the system is unavailable. Attempts to find help through the website's Live Chat option are unsuccessful as well.
Braquet's experiences are not alone. The White House says nearly six million people visited the Healthcare.gov on the first day of enrollment, and yet no numbers have been released on how many consumers have actually purchased a plan or even gained access.
The Facebook page created for Healthcare.gov is riddled with complaints of potential customers unable to navigate the website.
But for Braquet, the clock is ticking, and all he can do is try again.
For more information, see the links below.
Louisiana Healthcare Education Coalition, www.lhec.net
Affordable Care Act, www.healthcare.gov
Health Agents for America, www.HAFAmerica.org
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