We began our adventure months ago. Knowing we couldn't afford to insure my wife on her $800/mo COBRA benefit forever, we began calling insurance agencies about the Affordable Care Act. We learned that nobody would make any quotes whatsoever until October 1.
Gaming system release dates. They hype them for years before they even come out, you can't get any help toward getting one even though you 100% know you want one and will pay NOW for one, and the release date being the same everywhere pretty much guarantees mass panic and pandemonium.
Finally, October 1 rolls around, and we make the call. We get a quote, it's wonderfully affordable, but we can't apply for it right then because "the system is down."
Day 1 bugs. Congratulations! For being excited about this game and wanting it forever and buying it Day One, you get the privilege of play testing a game so we can fix the bugs later!
So I wait two weeks and then call the insurance company back. They tell me to go to the healthcare.gov website since their systems won't allow them in and take a shot at it myself.
Constructable levels. Imagine if Tony Hawk Pro Skater had come with flat ground and a full engine, but absolutely no levels. Here's the open maps, build before you can ever play. While that sounds cool, imagine someone gives you 15-minutes to build, then you're stuck with whatever you made.
After the insurance company declares I MUST insure myself as well with my family, I begin inputting data into the site. Each page has three to six questions, some of them amazingly pointless. Like "does your two-year old pay alimony?"
Mundane tutorials. Come on, Nintendo. If I can't figure out Press A to Jump, I shouldn't be playing video games. I shouldn't have to remind YOU which button to press.
It's the second hour of filling out paperwork when I start really recognizing the loading times. This website is asking me for my life story one question at a time, and taking 45 seconds a page to refresh. The little circle is green, spinning in a circle...
Those times when you turn on your Xbox 360 and it decides it's time to do....something? Like it can't hook to the internet or something? And you find yourself staring at that spinning icon, praying it lets you do what you want to do instead of turning into a Red Ring of Death.
I push and push. I hear that nobody's made it as far as I have when I talk to online and telephone help. They're amazed that I even got the darn page to load, let alone work. I get to the income and current insurance page and learn something terrible. Most of the "affordable care" part of this plan relies on subsidies, and you have to qualify for them. You can be denied if the government decides your health care is affordable, and it has to do with you having to spend less than 9.5% of your income on your own insurance. READ: YOUR OWN INSURANCE. The site specifically states that you can't claim monies paid to insure your family, where a huge chunk of my problem lies. Therefore, my family won't qualify for subsidies, making "affordable care" unaffordable. I'm told by customer service that I need to apply my family without me to qualify for subsidies. When I try to edit the document, I find I can't take myself off. I'm the original applicant, I can't be deleted. Therefore the only way to get it right? RE-ENTER ALL OF THE INFORMATION WITHOUT ME ON THE PLAN. Two hours of work right down the drain.
Playing a classic sidescroller game in the arcade with a team. You've never met these people before, but they are your kindred spirits. You're mauling the game, and have gathered a crowd, who is cheering you on. Just as you are heading for the final boss, after you've cleared the room of enemies, all you have to do is walk right and beat the boss. Suddenly, your gaming compadre's mother comes up and screams "WE GOTTA GO NOW, COME ON!" and drags him away. You're left, mere inches from success, and that character is standing still, holding the screen in place so you can't advance.
Two hours later: complete the form without me involved. Asked to review to check for errors. I notice that I put MY phone number on the primary and hers on secondary. I think "if they want to talk to someone, they'll want her. I'd better edit that." I click "edit", change it, then "save." But it doesn't just save. It goes to the next step. There is no "back out after changing one thing," it's "go over the whole darn thing again."
The @#%$ OWL from Ocarina of Time. "Do You Want To Hear It AGAIN?" After jamming too hard on the button, you default to the option where he talks all over again! How many times did YOU listen to the owl?
That adventure complete, I get to the submission screen. Electronically sign, and hit submit. Xbox loading wheel comes up for two minutes, then backs out to the same screen as if I did nothing.
The submission goes through! *Final Fantasy Fanfare*
Your eligibility results are ready! Click here to view eligibility results! *click* "Your family is eligible for Medicaid. Someone will contact you to set up Medicaid."..........what? I have plenty of respect for Medicaid, but it won't cover what my family needs. I came to this website about the Affordable Healthcare Act to obtain...affordable insurance! Medicaid won't work for me!
After harassing more people online and on the phone, I finally get my two-day later return call from an administrator. They say that the government website is only going to give the exact cheapest option available, nothing more, which in our case was Medicaid. I was more than welcome to continue shopping outside of the government website. READ: nine hours of work on the government website for nothing, only to be told that I needed to go back to the place that sent me to the website and get them to do what I needed them to do in the first place.
I'm in this to the end. Even though I just learned I make $1,332 too FEW dollars to qualify for affordable health care as is....I'm not done. I'll keep you updated if any more gaming equivalents come out of this adventure, but hopefully this little guide will help you through your own adventure!