Obamacare, the new federal healthcare plan, exceeded the one million mark in Dec. as 975,000 people signed up during the last month of 2013 in order to beat the Jan. 1 deadline requiring everyone to have insurance by the beginning of the new year.
Healthcare.gov, the healthcare marketplace designed to provide an easy and efficient way to buy health insurance, has been plagued with ongoing problems, which prevented insurance seekers from signing up and caused more than a few headaches in the White House. White House officials reported on Dec. 23 the website was able to handle 83,000 shoppers concurrently, two days before the sign-up deadline. This was a great improvement over Nov. and Oct. statistics, putting Obamacare enrollees at fewer than 160,000 in the two months combined.
This is good news for the Obama administration, since on Jan. 1, the new health care law will be enacted and patient coverage will begin, but it’s not all good news for the new law. White House administrators had estimated three million people would be signed up before the start of 2014, but enrollment fell short by 66%.
The Affordable Care act barely squeaked through Congress without a single Republican vote, while the Democrats relied on Obama’s insistence that Americans would support it. They voted for it without reading the 1,500-page law. On Oct. 1, 2013, Obamacare was launched and the reality of the law has hit home.
To date, 4.2 million people have lost their insurance plans due to Obamacare and have been directed to the health insurance marketplace where they are finding policies that carry more coverage then they need and at prices they cannot afford. Some policies have price increases of 30% or more with minimal coverage.
Although the website has undergone significant repairs to fix the ongoing bugs and hiccups plaguing the system, customers still faced an uphill battle to buy the required healthcare insurance and avoid the penalties. Thousands spent Christmas Eve on hold trying to obtain assistance for a variety of problems, including glitches with the website.
President Obama consulted with aides during his holiday vacation in Hawaii regarding his signature health plan. His main concern was to minimize the hurdles for insurance seekers trying to switch plans.
New Year’s Day will ring in new health insurance for those who switched their plans before Dec. 25 and paid their premiums on time. However, many of the newly insured have stated that technical problems still exist and have caused faulty data to be passed on to the enrollees. Concerns have been raised about the ability to use the new benefits on Jan. 1.
The horrendous failure of the website’s launched could be insignificant when compared to the political disaster Obama would face when newly enrolled Americans find themselves in an ER only to discover no evidence of their insurance coverage exists. Republicans, eager to point out the shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act, will be on watch for failures indicating the new law may put American’s healthcare at risk.
“The basic structure of that law is working despite all the problems –despite the website problems, despite the messaging problems,” Obama stated to reporters.
By: Deborah Baran