President Barack Obama announced that 7.1 million people have signed up for affordable care the through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The figure will be seen as a victory for the White House after months of embarrassing glitches in its online enrollment website.
The administration’s primary health care website, HealthCare.gov, suffered from a disastrous unveiling, patchy support from US citizens, and objections from Republicans ever since the new healthcare bill became law in 2010.
Obamacare is a popular term that refers to the Affordable Care Act.
Political analysts say that an Obama victory over health care could significantly boost his party’s (Democrat’s) prospects in November’s congressional elections.
During remarks delivered at the Rose Garden yesterday, President Obama said:
“The truth is, even more folks want to sign up. So anybody who was stuck in line because of the huge surge in demand over the past few days can still go back and finish your enrollment — 7.1 million, that’s on top of the more than 3 million young adults who have gained insurance under this law by staying on their family’s plan.”
“That’s on top of the millions more who have gained access through Medicaid expansion and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Making affordable coverage available to all Americans, including those with preexisting conditions, is now an important goal of this law.”
Monday saw a surge of Obamacare registrations
Despite some technical problems, Monday’s deadline for initial enrollment arrived after a flood of registrations. Today, the website says the initial period for Obamacare enrollment is over, but those whose applications were affected by technical glitches could carry on and complete them.
People who started enrolling before the deadline have been given time to complete the process (Source: HealthCare.gov).
Officials said that on Monday over 4.8 million visits were made to HealthCare.gov, and the call center received more than two million phone calls.
Website glitch reminded people of previous problems
Monday’s surge of enrollees arrived despite a software glitch early in the morning, reminding people of the technical disasters that plagued the system when it was first rolled out. A message on the website read “System isn’t available at the moment, we’re currently performing maintenance,” but by 8am the software bug had been sorted.
A high proportion of Monday’s enrollees were young adults, an official told CNN. Having a good number of young people in the Obama 7 million enrollee pool is vital for controlling costs.
Over six million people had signed up for private health care insurance coverage through the insurance exchanges set up by Obamacare before Monday.
Nancy Pelosi confirms target reached
Nancy Pelosi, House Democrat leader, announced that the White House had over 7 million people registered for health care through the exchanges by midnight on Monday (the deadline). She confirmed the figure after meeting with Obama on Tuesday.
Pelosi added that the final number will probably be much higher because there are still people who did not manage to complete their forms before the deadline and were given extra time.
California’s exchange, which ran slowly on Monday, has given enrollees who did not manage to finish the process until April 15th to do so.
Selecting the plan is not the final step – paying for it is. According to Kathleen Sebelius, between 80% and 90% of enrollees so far have paid, insurers reported.
Obamacare aims to reduce the number of uninsured
The aim of Obamacare is to address the number of Americans with no health care coverage, currently estimated to stand at about 45 million people. Compared to other advanced economies, the US has a “huge third-world underbelly” of uninsured people who number more than the whole population of Spain.
How Obamacare affects that figure remains to be seen. According to anecdotal reports, a high proportion of enrollees had no coverage before.
Many Americans with pre-existing conditions, the ones not branded “uninsurable”, could not afford the exorbitant premiums insurance companies would charge before Obamacare was introduced. It will be interesting to see how many of them managed to sign up.
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