Since the grand opening of the Affordable Care Act exchanges last week, it has been difficult to avoid reading about all of the crashes, glitches and overall dysfunction of the online enrollment process. While the Obama administration has blamed the problems on high demand, other experts have suggested that the real culprit is software problems. Regardless of how the technical glitches are addressed, there have been two other practical issues that have kept some people from enrolling online – no bank account and no email.
It has been estimated by the FDIC that 20% of households in the United States do not have a traditional checking account from which an individual could write a check or make an electronic transfer for premium payments. Insurance companies do not generally accept credit cards for payment of insurance premiums due to the transaction fees. The current solution is that insurance companies are being required to accept prepaid debit cards along with the more traditional checks, money orders and bank wire transfers for insurance sold on an exchange.
Another practical problem is that some exchanges require an email address to enroll online. Who doesn’t have email? According to this account, there are many people making it through life without an email address. Those individuals will need to either get an email address or enroll using a paper application and wait for a written response from the exchange (or the federal government in the federal exchange) to find out whether additional documentation is needed. I can only suggest that if you want to get insurance before the end of the open enrollment period in 2014, I would not recommend waiting for a paper response from the government.