Deaf Californians looking to sign up for health insurance coverage through the state’s Obamacare exchange were directed Monday to a hotline offering to connect them with “hot ladies.”
As some Californians learned on the final day of open enrollment, one of the phone numbers provided by Covered California, the state’s online exchange, was 1-888-899-4500, one digit off from the real number, 1-888-889-4500.
So instead of being connected to an Obamacare representative, some hearing-impaired Californians were instead sent to an “adult entertainment” phone service.
“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,” deaf Californians were told when they called the incorrect number, KMAX-TV reported.
One Californian, Jeff Brown, told KMAX that he dialed the incorrect number thinking he was signing up for health insurance coverage.
He said he logged on to the site Monday, checked all the boxes that applied to him and then was told by the site to dial an 800 number. He said he tried that, but was met with a busy signal. So he dialed the site’s listed TTY number for the hearing-impaired.
“I’ll try this number again just in case I dialed it wrong—same thing,” he said.
A Covered California representative initially declined to explain the incident to KMAX, saying instead in an email that the site "never" listed an incorrect number.
But the California news group made sure to capture a screen grab of the bad phone number.
The Covered California representative then responded with this comment: “After investigating it further, we are reviewing the shop and compare tool as an incorrect number. We’re currently working to correct the problem.”
The incorrect phone number has since been removed from the state’s website.
“I guess it’s an honest mistake,” Brown said, “but websites aren’t that hard to keep up right.”
Meanwhile, other users were forced on the final day of enrollment to sign up in person.
“I already signed up, so I have an account on the website, but I just haven’t been able to access it,” Ron Randolph, who had to go to a facility to sign up, told KMAX.
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