As the program’s central website was under repair, Obama encouraged Americans seeking insurance to sign up the old-fashioned way by calling 1-800-318-2596.
But when I tried calling the number and followed the prompts in what I deemed the most logical manner, I got referred back to the website Healthcare.gov and its live web chat feature.
An audio of my recording is attached to this post. I told the automated voice system that I live in Virginia, even though I do not, because I wanted to pick one of the 36 states that are served by the federal exchange.
The automated voice then asked me if I was interested in information on the marketplace, a “getting ready checklist,” or “small business options.”
I thought it made most sense to choose more information on the marketplace, but that prompt just gave me a description of the exchange and then suggested I visit Healthcare.gov as another option.
After trying a number of different scenarios, I did eventually connect with a live human agent without much wait, but only after choosing the “getting ready checklist” option from the main menu.
This doesn’t make much sense to me. Why wouldn’t speaking to a live agent be one of the options in the main menu? At a minimum, once I expressed an interest in the marketplace, why didn’t the automated voice ask me if I wanted to speak with an agent to apply for coverage through the marketplace? Why did I have to go back to the main menu and choose “getting ready checklist"?
Some may accuse me of making too much of this, but if the phone number is there to assist Americans who ran into trouble using the website, the phone hotline should be as straightforward as possible.