Call center worker sounds alarm over Affordable Care Act training

Posted at 6:43 PM, Oct 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-01 18:46:30-04

CHESTER, Va. (WTVR) – A worker at a Central Virginia call center says inadequate training and confusion is muddling the process for citizens who want to buy insurance via the Affordable Care Act.

A General Dynamics call center in Chester is one of seven call centers set up across the country to answer questions about the Obamacare Health Insurance Marketplace.

“There's a lengthy wait time for people calling into the marketplace," the worker told CBS 6 News’ Sandra Jones. “It's more about manpower than anything else.”

The worker, who spoke out on the condition of anonymity because she feared losing her job, things are so bad General Dynamic is hiring anybody in order to staff the call center.

She said workers ran into problems logging onto websites and following scripts to answer callers’ questions on the first day.

She is also worried that she – and other workers -- did not receive enough training to help callers with the complicated enrolment process.

"I think it's somewhat chaotic because you have people as back up that only had one week of training,” the worker warned.

The worker said she fears the lengthy wait times could be because workers are putting callers on hold because they are using a standardized script and do not know the “ins and outs” of the system.

Even so, she fears she and other workers could be fired because they cannot process calls quickly enough.

“You are monitored for your calls and if you get so many calls where you're not showing a certain performance level, you could be terminated," she said.

As the call centers fielded calls about the Health Insurance Marketplace, complaints mounted across the nation about lengthy wait times.

CBS 6 News went through the process to see how long it would take to get an agent on the phone.

A recorded message said it would take around 15 minutes, which was accurate. However, a worker from Houston, Texas, call center answered the phone.

A manager and supervisor from General Dynamics directed our inquiries to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Washington, D.C., which oversees the call centers. However, officials were unable to comment since only essential personnel were in the office because of the government shutdown.

Stay with and CBS 6 News for updates on this story.