Trying (and trying and trying) the SHOP for Insurance

Misty and I attempted to get health insurance for Booda Studio‘s employees, mainly ourselves for now, again today. Once again, we failed — through no fault of our own. This is the plight of attempting to get insurance through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) health insurance marketplace.

When the ACA (“Obamacare”) enrollment period started for individuals and families, the SHOP was slated to launch a month or so later. As the problems with the individual and family site developed and snowballed, the administration put off the small business site for a year. Now, the only way to get insurance for one’s small business is to see a broker/enrollment specialist. (Oh, you can also apply through the mail.)

So, okay. That’s a bit of an annoyance. Now we actually have to go see someone instead of just fighting through the traffic on the official site. Real traffic now instead of virtual traffic.

I look up where we can go to enroll in our area. There’s one place — the county’s Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR) center. I call them. They give me the number to a woman named Carla. Carla, apparently, works out of Round Rock, which is over an hour away. She only comes to her office here on Fridays. We make an appointment to meet with her a week later, today.

Google Maps is off a little but we still arrive with time to spare — and without a return phone call from Carla asking for more specific directions. We find our way into the building and the receptionist tells us Carla hasn’t been in or called them all day. She calls, gets Carla’s voicemail (as I had earlier) and leaves a message with my number.

Three hours later, no phone call.

This may be why the ACA enrollment numbers aren’t as high as folks would like. There’s already the distinct possibility that we may fall into that donut hole of folks who earn too much to get subsidies but too little to afford a worthy plan out-of-pocket. But making it this much more difficult — having seemingly one person covering three counties in Texas, delaying the SHOP site, etc. — clearly only worsens the situation. We want to get insurance through the exchange because we support it. We’d prefer a robust public option (at the minimum) or a single-payer system. But right now we’d just like to get insurance as soon as possible.

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