With a deadline looming, Hill staffers face their own health enrollment snags
Capitol Hill staffers are hitting multiple obstacles in trying to enroll in the Obamacare exchange just days before the federal government’s deadline for getting coverage.
They and lawmakers have until Monday to sign up on DC Health Link, the District’s insurance exchange, if they want to maintain the government’s generous employer contribution to their health insurance.
But as crunch time approaches, Democratic and Republican staffers are getting error messages, denials, notices that they’re enrolled in multiple plans and incomplete confirmation — as well as a website that went down briefly Thursday.
Officials at DC Health Link say that they are working quickly to fix each problem. But the snags are causing a lot of frustration and grief.
“Anyone else not able to log in or use [the site]?” Jessica Vanden Berg, chief of staff to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), wrote late Thursday to other Democratic chiefs of staff in an email obtained by POLITICO. “No one in my office can today.”
...Several staffers said that any log-in name they entered on the website came back with a rejection notice or that once they enrolled, they didn’t get an actual confirmation of coverage, making many nervous that they’d be uninsured as of Jan. 1. Their experiences parallel some of the troubles that million of Americans confronted following the disastrous launch of the federal HealthCare.gov portal.
“On three separate occasions, we were … asked to re-submit our personal information (Social Security numbers and dates of birth) for each person in our family,” one Senate staffer said of the local exchange.
Others got rejection alerts because they live in Virginia or Maryland but were trying to sign up on the D.C. exchange. District officials blamed that error on staffers applying for individual or family coverage instead of policies through the small business exchange, or SHOP.
Government regulations under the health law require them to use SHOP if they want to continue receiving the regular employer contribution to their health plans. Staffers’ worry is that if they’re not successfully enrolled by Monday’s deadline, they‘ll lose a benefit that amounts to up to 75 percent of their premium costs....