While trying to start the process of signing up for health insurance through the provider Covered California, hearing-impaired residents of “The Golden State” were exposed to a different type of service provider. Instead of health care enrollment, a wrong number on the site’s Contact Us page led callers to a sex hotline advertising for “hot ladies.”
On Monday, California residents were expected to begin enrollment for health insurance through Covered California so that the process could be completed by April 15. In filling out the application, residents with hearing trouble were given a "1-800" number to dial in order to compare the costs of different coverage plans. Although the number on the site’s contact page, 1-888-889-4500, was correct in directing callers, a second number for hearing-impaired callers to compare costs, 1-888-899-4500, led to an interesting mix up.
“Welcome to America’s hottest talk line. Ladies, to talk to interesting and exciting guys free, press one now. Guys, hot ladies are waiting to talk to you. Press two to connect free now.” This was the recording hearing-impaired callers were exposed to while trying to reach a health care service provider. When callers hung up and redialed, thinking they had dialed an incorrect number, they were connected to the same enticing voice.
A representative for Covered California initially denied a mistake on the insurance provider’s end, claiming an incorrect number was never listed on the website, CBS Sacramento reported. However, an email sent to CBS after the fact read: “After investigating it further, we are reviewing the shop and compare tool as an incorrect number. We’re currently working to correct the problem.”
Over one million California residents signed up for health insurance policies through Covered California as of Monday and an additional 1.1 million had started the application process. Residents who did not make Monday’s enrollment deadline are expected to pay a $95 tax penalty or one percent of their annual income, according to Affordable Care Act guidelines.
Since filling out the information on the site’s “Apply for Benefits” portal and clicking “Continue” is all residents had to do to start the process, further pushback of the deadline is not expected. It goes without saying this is up there with the most bizarre snafus experienced by Americans trying to sign up for the country’s new health care plan.