President Obama urged uninsured Americans to sign-up for health care coverage when the Affordable Care Act’s new marketplaces open for business next Tuesday, but predicted that they will experience glitches during the early days of implementation.
During remarks in Largo, Maryland, Obama debunked and even mocked some of the the over-the-top rhetoric surrounding the law and specifically singled out Fox News for spreading misinformation about reform. “If you talked to somebody who said I don’t know, I was watching Fox News and they said it’s horrible, and you can say you know what, don’t take my word for it, go on the website, see for yourself what the prices are, see for yourself what the choices are, then make up your own mind,” he said. “I promise you, if you go on the website and it turns out you’re going to save $100, $200, $300 a month on your insurance, or you’ll be able to buy insurance for the first time, even if you didn’t vote for me, I’ll bet you’ll sign up for that health care plan.”
Beginning on Tuesday, uninsured individuals will be able to log on to HealthCare.gov fill out a 3-page application to determine if they are eligible for Medicaid or plans in the exchanges, the cost of insurance, and if they qualify for government subsidies. The enrollment period will stretch six months and coverage will start to flow on Jan. 1 for enrollees who sign up by Dec. 15. Administration officials have long believed that as individuals visit the online portals — either because they are uninsured and want to purchase coverage or are merely curious about “Obamacare” — they will tune out the political noise and become engaged in a deeply personal consumer experience.
Minutes after Obama concluded his speech, however, the Associated Press reported that “small businesses will not be able to enroll online starting Oct. 1” and will “initially have to mail or fax their information so that they can enroll.” The Congressional Budget Office expects 2 million people to receive employer-based coverage through the special business-only exchange in 2014. In another glitch, administration sources told the AP that the Spanish-language version of healthcare.gov website “will be not be ready to handle enrollments for a few weeks.”
Obama eluded to the problems only generally in his remarks and argued that past health care efforts were also plagued with early glitches, referring to the initial problems in rolling out President George W. Bush’s prescription drug benefit law. Obamacare will work best, however, in states “where governors are working to implement it rather than fight it,” he argued. “Like any law, like any big product launch, there are going to be some glitches as this thing unfolds.”
“A few years from now, when people are using this to get coverage and everybody’s feeling pretty good about all the choices and competition that they’ve got, there are going to be a whole bunch of folks who say, ‘yeah, no, I always thought this provision was excellent.’ I voted for that thing. You watch. It will not be called Obamacare.”