The health care web site wasn’t one stop shopping.
Luis Martinez of Hialeah survived two heart attacks during the more than 10 years that he went without health insurance.
So he was relieved to finally find coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchange in March, two weeks before the enrollment deadline.
But four months after he and his wife signed up for a subsidized, bronze-level health plan with Coventry, Martinez, 51, said he feels as though he has fallen into a black hole of government bureaucracy while trying to prove his income and his wife’s citizenship in order to keep their coverage, part of a national effort to verify policyholders’ eligibility.
Martinez, who has stents implanted in his coronary arteries, said he has tried repeatedly for more than a month to comply with the government’s requests for additional documentation to resolve inconsistencies in his personal information — or risk losing his $457 monthly subsidy, and health insurance for him and his wife, Rocio Balbin, 46.
So far, officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are not satisfied with his response.
“I am against time,” said Martinez, a computer systems administrator who is studying at night to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. “I have a dream, and I want to finish my career before I die. This is stressing me out.”
HHS officials declined to comment on Martinez’s case, but the agency is contacting hundreds of thousands of people with subsidized health plans bought under the ACA to verify their eligibility, particularly income and citizenship status, months after they first applied for and received financial aid to help them pay premiums and out-of-pocket costs for their coverage.
About eight million people signed up for a health plan through the ACA exchanges. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 85 percent of them were eligible for financial aid, and the government is expected to deliver about $10 billion in subsidies during the first year.
Healthcare analysts say some consumers will end up paying higher monthly premiums as a result of the verification process, while others may have to repay some or all of their subsidies if they are found to be ineligible.
But for some, like Martinez, the verification process has become a maze of red tape.
Martinez has receipts showing that he mailed at least five identical packages — containing, he said, copies of his U.S. passport, his wife’s residency card, their 2013 income tax statement and his Florida driver license — by certified mail to the HHS-designated address in London, Kentucky.