What to get at Walmart and what to forget when it comes to air conditioner prices

Here's how the process works

Published: December 18, 2013 02:30 PM

Q. I have a client with no credit history who’s having trouble getting her identity confirmed on HealthCare.gov. What should she do?

A. You are talking about “identity proofing,” the process by which the health care marketplace verifies that you are who you say you are.

Here’s how it works, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which is running insurance marketplaces on behalf of 36 states through HealthCare.gov.

After you’ve created a login and password, you’ll be asked to provide your name, date of birth, home and email addresses, and, at your option, your Social Security number and phone number. (Some people have said they don’t want the government to know their Social Security number, perhaps forgetting that the government already does since that's where it came from in the first place. I see no reason not provide it, myself.)

The government has deputized Experian, the big national credit-rating firm, to take it from there.  It will “ping” the trove of information it has on you, which you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ever seen your credit report: old addresses, credit cards, banks, loans, car registrations, etc. It will generate a few questions based on this information. You might be asked to select an old address from a list, or identify a certain car you bought back in 2004, or whatever.

If Experian doesn’t have enough information on you to generate these questions (that's your client's situation), or you answer them wrong (which could happen if you misremember, for instance, the date you opened a certain credit card, or if Experian’s information is wrong), you’ll be asked to call its help desk to go through the process with a live person.

If that doesn’t work either, you’ll be sent back to HealthCare.gov, which will ask you to upload or mail in documents to prove your identity. Given that time is growing short if you want insurance in place by Jan. 1 (you must have your application completed by Dec. 23), in this situation uploading would be preferable. You’re supposed to see instructions for uploading when you log into your account.

The list of acceptable documents is long enough that most people should have no trouble locating what they need.

The marketplace will accept any ONE of these documents as proof of identity.

  • Driver’s license
  • School ID card
  • Voter registration card
  • U.S. military card or draft record
  • Local, state, or federal government-issued ID card
  • Military dependent ID card
  • Tribal card
  • Authentic document from a tribe
  • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card

Or it will accept any TWO of these.

  • Public birth or marriage certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Divorce decree
  • Employer ID
  • High school or college diploma
  • Property deed or title

One more tip: If you have been stalled in identity-proofing purgatory since October or November, log into your HealthCare.gov account, call up your pending application, delete it and start over. It’s possible, if not likely, that the problem was on HealthCare.gov’s end, not yours.

One reader, who had dutifully sent documents to Experian and had been waiting for a month to hear back, tried this and said she got her identity verified immediately. Just sayin'.

Got a question for our health insurance expert? Ask it here; be sure to include the state you live in. And if you can't get enough health insurance news here, follow me on Twitter @NancyMetcalf.

Health reform countdown: We are doing an article a day on the new health care law until Jan. 1, 2014, when it takes full effect. (Read the previous posts in the series.) To get health insurance advice tailored to your situation, use our Health Law Helper, below.

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Health News


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more