Chattanooga-area Obamacare applicant in spotlight hasn't finished signing up

Chattanooga-area Obamacare applicant in spotlight hasn't finished signing up

October 4th, 2013 by Kate Belz in Local Regional News

Chad Henderson talks Thursday about his Internet experience applying insurance through the Affordable Care Act website.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

A day after a 21-year-old Flintstone, Ga., man became the subject of national media attention - including a front page Times Free Press story - for being one of the first Americans to actually get through Obamacare's glitchy website and enroll for coverage, he acknowledged that he hadn't completed that process.

Amidst the initial publicity, Chad Henderson was hailed by supporters of the Affordable Care Act as an example of the new system working, and was attacked by those against the law for buying into the plan and for being a volunteer for Organized for Action, a nonprofit promoting President Barack Obama's agenda.

Today, a libertarian magazine, Reason, called Henderson's account into question after a conversation with Henderson's father, who said that he and his son had not actually bought a plan off of the Obamacare site yet.

In an interview today with the Times Free Press, Chad Henderson confirmed that he hadn't actually purchased a plan, but he insisted he hadn't lied. He said the confusion was in the wording.

"I never actually said I purchased a plan," he said. "I said that I submitted an application, and so I enrolled. I haven't actually paid for a plan, though I found one that I liked. I never meant to mislead anyone."

When he first talked with the Times Free Press on Thursday, Chad Henderson said he had "picked" a bronze plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia that had a premium between $175 and $200. He said that the specific plan fit into his budget, though he wished it covered more.

In his initial tweet, Henderson said "Enrolled in #Obamacare just now! Looking forward to having affordable health care for the first time!"

Today, Henderson said he stood by those comments, but repeated that he never specifically said he had purchased a plan.

In an interview with the Times Free Press today, Chad's father, Bill Henderson, said that he never meant to imply that his son had lied, and believes that misunderstanding over the situation has been blown out of proportion.

"I know that he applied. He got into the site, and showed the options to me. We just haven't made our picks yet, but we have planned to" he said.

Bill Henderson said his son did stay up late and accessed the website. He said he saw the web pages his son showed him laying out prices, but that he said it was too late to settle on one. It is true that neither he nor his son have been insured in years.

He said when Reason contacted him, he did not expect to be pitted against his son's account.

"All the media, I think they are just twisting this whatever way they can," Bill Henderson said.

David Yoder, vice president of American Exchange, a Chattanooga-based company specializing in the federal insurance marketplace, said while it is possible for consumers to have their applications approved on the federal site,, someone isn't actually "enrolled" until they have purchased a plan and all the federal feedback regarding subsidies has been confirmed.

"I have clients who will get their applications approved, and they say 'Thank goodness, I'm enrolled now,'" he said. "And I have to just say, "Hold on a minute."

For more details, read Saturday's Times Free Press.