After the health reform law’s state-level marketplaces opened to the public on Tuesday, the new websites that allow Americans to enroll for coverage haven’t exactly gone off without a hitch. People reported long delays as they attempted to access Healthcare.gov, and some people who wanted to create an online account weren’t actually able to finish the process because of website glitches. Critics of the law have been quick to note that the technological issues signal that Obamacare isn’t working.
The website issues have certainly been frustrating for many Americans who wanted to sign up for health insurance on the first day possible. But they likely don’t spell Obamacare’s doom.
Wonkblog’s Sarah Kliff, who reached out to many of the people who tried to enroll in Obamacare plans when they first opened on Tuesday, concludes that technical glitches probably won’t deter those people from giving up completely. “Everyone I spoke with, even those who couldn’t sign up, took nearly the same attitude: I guess I’ll come back and try again later,” Kliff reports.
Most of the people who spoke with the Wall Street Journal so far this week said the same thing.
In Pennsylvania, Linda couldn’t sign up online, but filled out a paper application that she’ll submit by mail. In New York, Arthur plans on signing up in person after he encountered website glitches. Ryan, who lives in California, needs more time to compare his options and plans on officially enrolling later. In New Jersey, Kevin was very frustrated after he was unable to sign up online, but that doesn’t mean he’s done with Obamacare. “It’s a total mess. I can’t get any information. I’m no more knowledgeable now than I was yesterday,” Kevin told the Wall Street Journal. “But I’m going to keep trying.”
Forbes’ Dan Diamond notes that, although it’s unclear exactly how many people failed to enroll on Tuesday because of technological problems, it’s a “near-certainty” that website glitches won’t scare people off forever. Diamond points to a recent poll from the Morning Consult group that found that just 13 percent of potential enrollees actually planned to sign up on Tuesday anyway. The majority of new Obamacare customers may not have been affected at all because they haven’t tried to log on yet.
Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services have indicated that they’re aware of the issues with HealthCare.gov and are working to resolve them (although some reports say the federal website remains sluggish on its third day). They point to the fact that this is just the first week, and Americans have several more months to complete the enrollment process. “Whether you sign up today or tomorrow, you have until December 15 to sign up for coverage that begins January 1. We’re in a marathon, not a sprint,” Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said on Tuesday.
Some Americans have been wholly unconcerned about the technological issues so far. “I’m not mad. I’m not frustrated,” Paula Tripplet, who wanted to be the first person to sign up for Obamacare in Michigan but encountered website glitches that prevented her from completing the process, said. “This really is historic. It’s exciting.”