Obamacare Exchange

Today we are 100 days away from the kickoff of the Obamacare exchange where anyone who believes they are entitled to a health insurance premium subsidy can submit a financial application through the exchange and see if they qualify.  obamacare exchange

The company that handles an average of more than 60,000 calls daily about Medicare will be deluged by new inquiries about health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The six Medicare call centers run by Vangent, a company based in Arlington, Va., will answer questions about the health care law from the 34 states that opted out of running their own online health insurance marketplaces (Obamacare exchange) or decided to operate them jointly with the federal government.


HHS estimates 42 million calls will come in before the end of 2013.

Medicare is the same in every state.

This is not.

It has been 3 years since the law was signed creating the Obamacare exchange and all the other challenges associated with implementing the law. Yet today most Americans still don’t understand the law and only a third of the population fully support the change.

Shortly after the Medicare prescription drug benefit was introduced in 2006, the HHS inspector general found that 44 percent of callers reported problems accessing information — despite a similar 2004 inspector general’s finding — and 21 percent of callers waited so long for responses that they hung up. When Medicare introduced a new prescription drug discount card in 2004, the Government Accountability Office reported that 29 percent of the call-center answers were inaccurate and 10 percent of the calls were disconnected.

34 states will have federally run Obamacare exchanges.

Each state has a different set of participating carriers.

Each state has different plans, networks, drug formulary and rates.

Medicare is simple.

This is not.

HHS has promised that call center reps will undergo “extensive training” about the law and basic health insurance principles.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or 6 months telemarketing or secretarial experience.

Gosh, that sounds encouraging . . .

An HHS spokeswoman said that customer service representatives will answer questions by reading from HHS-approved scripts and provide state-specific information. However, she would not provide examples of the scripts or say whether they were tested with consumers.

What could possibly go wrong?