Covered California launched its website to register agents today. Within hours, the website had been replaced by a message declaring "We'll Be Back." It is available again now.
The hiccup with the service is only the most objective sign that all is not well with the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordability Act in California. PPACA (often referred to as Obamacare) is getting into full swing by January 1, 2014. Enrollment is supposed to begin on October 1st. No agents have been able to sign up for the required courses yet, so there are no qualified agents to enroll employees of small businesses.
Today was the announced date when insurance agents and brokers would be able to able to register to become certified. The website launched this morning at 8am but failed to fulfill expectations. There was only another incomplete registration process, similar to the pre-registration that has been available since August 6th. The pre-registration gave a list of possible locations for training. Even that was missing from this registration.
Supposedly, profiles created are waiting for approval before actual registration. The notice stated that it would be reviewed within 15 days. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. It is inconceivable that the courses would be held within days of a schedule being announced. That leaves only a couple of weeks between the training begins and enrollment. Fifteen thousand or more agents are waiting to get certified, none of whom have any idea where or when that training will happen. This second wave of pre-registering appears to be a stall tactic and a shoddy one at that.
Michael Lujan, the representative of Covered California to insurance brokers, abruptly resigned from his position recently. Both Covered California and Lujan insist that his departure was the result of finishing the job he was hired to do. That is an unbelievable statement. Contracts with managing general agents, the larger brokerages that deal with independent brokers, have yet to be finalized.
In an interview with the Business Times, Lujan stated that "Another key final accomplishment, completing an agreement for certified brokers and agents to sign once they've been trained by Covered California, has also been completed." Those agreements have yet to be seen. Not a single broker or agent has qualified to sign it. The training is still unavailable. But, Lujan's job is complete? Hardly.
Regardless of whether Covered California approves all the profiles today and registrations begin tomorrow; this cannot be considered a good start. There are only 6 weeks left and there are no agents yet. Not a single one.