Our Attempt At Obamacare

Image-heavy post today. If you’re on your phone, you might want to postpone reading until you’re in front of a computer.

Exhibit A, a letter we received early last month. Which brings up an aside: Why are we still getting mail in 2013? Anyone of you want to forgo reading Control Your Cash online every day and instead have us print up the posts and send them to you? Let us know. Anyhow, after 12 years and $50,000 or so worth of business, Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield didn’t even give us a pair of boots and a backpack before telling us we could take a hike:

 Death notice


We were incensed at the time, but took some sort of solace in company. After realizing that we were merely among the first of millions, it didn’t feel so bad. Besides, this isn’t ABC/BS’s fault. As the letter indicates, the health plan that had been mutually beneficial to both them and us for a long time (they got money, we got coverage, everyone was happy or at least tolerant of the situation) is now illegal. Or will be at the end of the year. Why? Because it violates at least one provision in this, the laughably titled Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and if you think we’re going to scour all 389,365 words of it (actual count, not hyperbole) to determine exactly which subsection(s) our old plan ran afoul of, we’re not.

But the good news is, as evidenced in the lower corner of the photo, that all is not lost. In fact, we might find an even better deal at our state’s new health insurance exchange! The exchanges, one to a state, are supposed to operate as an Orbitz or Expedia of sorts, only for health insurance instead of hotels and flights. Although there’s one crucial juncture where the analogy self-destructs: Orbitz never goes down, at least not in the dozens of times we’ve ever used it. Then again, technically our state health insurance exchange has only gone down once.

The exchange has been open for 7 weeks now, sufficiently long to have ironed out any kinks, right? That’s enough time to have built a dozen floors of the Empire State Building, or 384 miles of the Alaska Highway, so rewriting a few lines of code in an air-conditioned office with a break room and probably a foosball table shouldn’t be too hard, should it? Let’s ask the members of this happy and ethnically-ambiguous-but-certainly-not-Caucasian family that adorns our state exchange’s landing page:


Obamacare landing page


The “Apply Now” button redirects to…the page shown above, in a recursive display of a recursive display. So instead we clicked the hyperlinked text that reads “sign up for an account”. It goes without saying that we weren’t looking to purchase anything in earnest, so we used a bogus name and bogus other data. Thank you, Howard Stern, for giving us a readily available pseudonym for just such situations:


dell' Abate application


Why the username has to contain at least one numeral (they said “number”, but including the string “five” in our 1st attempt at a username didn’t take), we couldn’t tell you. Again, that requirement is merely for one’s username, not the password. If you live in Nevada and have a juvenile bent, like us, you’ll be happy to know that the site will accept a username that includes a 4-letter obscenity. Provided, of course, that you include at least 4 other characters, no fewer than one of which must be a numeral.

Given that we were on a site sponsored or at least mandated by a federal government that won’t stop spying on its citizens until it achieves omniscience, we figured it’d behoove us to actually read the Terms of Use this time instead of just blindly signing off on them. The worst Apple can do to us is apply Digital Rights Management to our song purchases. Nevada Health Link wields a little more power over its customers than does the largest company on Earth, for those of you who are still convinced that corporations pose the biggest threat to modern society:


Burn notice


You call it “chilling”, we call it faceless cyber-surveillance that the attorneys didn’t even bother to attribute to a particular entity. Just know that you’re being watched, and that’s that. Hey, at least they went to the trouble of disclosing it, instead of just monitoring us without our express consent. We clicked the boxes – excuse us, Baba Booey clicked the boxes – and we continued to the next exciting page in this charade that serves only to add complexity to what used to be the relatively uncomplicated task of buying health insurance.


Endless loop


A couple of points about “You’re about to begin the employee healthcare enrollment process for .”

  • Go back to the 2nd image, the one with the happy family dancing in translucent glee. There are two fairly conspicuous buttons at the bottom of that page. We clicked the “Individuals and Families” one, so we’re not sure why being an employee of anyone or anything would factor into this. Besides, the folks at the exchange should know that we’d take it as a gross insult if they’d insinuate that we’d work for someone else.
  • How the hell is that sentence supposed to end? We’re about to begin the employee healthcare enrollment process for what?

Information from our employer? Seriously, what are they talking about? We were fluxxomed (it’s like flummoxed, only worse) but we’d still crossed every x and dotted every j up until this point, so we continued by pressing the “Next” button. And got this page:


Endless loop


Wait, did it not take? Let’s press the “Next” button again, make sure that the page refreshes:


Endless loop


Well, this is getting awkward. Okay, one more time:


Endless loop


And that’s where they left us. 513 other people found a back door that we don’t know about, so right now we’re among the 99.9998% of Nevadans on the outside looking into this life-saving, labor-saving construct that will protect us as patients and make our care easier to afford. Thank you, elected overlords. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Which are fortunately beating at a normal rate, otherwise we might need health care coverage. The good news is that we’ve still got 6 weeks to comply with the law. Just 330 more miles of frozen tundra to slog through.

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