Since Obamacare’s insurance exchanges opened to the public on Tuesday, there’s been a lot of initial interest in them. The traffic on the exchange sites has exceeded expectations, and many states report that thousands of Americans have called to ask about Obamacare or created an online account to begin shopping for plans. Over the past several days, there have been stories about people across the country who have been eager to sign up for insurance as soon as possible.
But there have also been some website glitches that have prevented some of those people from completing their enrollment process online — particularly for those using HealthCare.gov. Since the majority of states in the country opted not to create their own insurance marketplaces, they’re using the federal HealthCare.gov site to enroll residents in Obamacare plans (while the states that chose to set up their own marketplaces built their own websites). HealthCare.gov has had long wait times, which the Department of Health and Human Services credits to very high traffic.
Despite the initial frustrations with the exchange websites, however, some Americans are getting through. Here are five people who have successfully signed up for Obamacare online:
Leslie Foster from California: 28-year-old Foster enrolled in California’s state-run exchange on Tuesday night, when traffic was a little slower and the site worked better. He told the Wall Street Journal that he settled on his choice on Wednesday morning. Foster is eligible for federal subsidies and will only end up paying about $62 each month for his new insurance plan. “It’s a great deal,” he said. He noted that people on other places have been experiencing more glitches, and said he’s glad that his state embraced health reform. “I’m grateful for being in California. They were definitely ahead of the ball,” he said.
Chad Henderson from Georgia: 21-year-old Henderson successfully enrolled in his state’s federally-run exchange early Tuesday morning. He told Wonkblog that he wanted to be one of the first people to sign up for Obamacare because he had read a few articles that said young people would be critical to the health law’s success, and “really just wanted to do my part to help out with the entire process.” He did experience delays with the HealthCare.gov site, and waited about three hours before he could create an account. But he said it was “pretty smooth sailing” from there, and enrolled in a plan with a $175 monthly premium.
Bill Henderson from Georgia: Chad Henderson’s father, Bill, also enrolled in Georgia’s exchange on Tuesday morning. In an interview with the Huffington Post, the younger Henderson said his dad has been uninsured for years, remarking, “I can’t remember a time when my dad has gone to the doctor. He’s just sucked it up.” The two enrolled in separate plans even though Obamacare allows Chad to remain on Bill’s plan until he turns 26. Chad said his father wanted him to take responsibility for his own insurance plan.
Kathy Kanak from Illinois: On Wednesday evening, Kanak tweeted that she had successfully enrolled in a plan on her state’s partnership exchange. Illinois worked with the federal government to set up its insurance marketplace, so Kanak used the federal HealthCare.gov site to enroll. “Success at Healthcare.gov! I’m enrolled!” she tweeted around 6:50 pm on Wednesday, adding, “Just took patience. Works great once you are in. People at phone center answered right away and were so nice!”
Leslie Peters from Rhode Island: Peters, who has been uninsured for five years due to her pre-existing conditions, was one of the first people to enroll on Rhode Island’s state-run exchange. She said she was “chompin’ at the bit” to sign up, and was surprised at how easy it ended up being. Peters didn’t encounter website glitches and completed the process in about 15 minutes. “It feels great to know I will soon have insurance and not have to worry about this anymore,” she told Kaiser Health News. “Not having insurance is something I worried about all the time.”
So far, the Hendersons are the first people who have spoken to the press after signing up for a federally-run exchange through HealthCare.gov, although some other people say they’ve enrolled in federal exchanges by using paper applications. Most of the people who haven’t been able to overcome the website glitches say they’ll try again later.
It’s not yet clear exactly how many people have successfully signed up for plans on the federally-run exchanges, and what the breakdown is between people enrolling on HealthCare.gov and people enrolling with paper forms. But the Department of Health and Human Services confirms that some people have successfully enrolled in the states where the federal government is running the marketplace, and says it will release specific numbers once the data has been verified with each state.
Some state-run exchanges, on the other hand, are already issuing early reports of very high application and enrollment numbers. For instance, in Kentucky, state officials say that nearly 3,000 individuals and families have enrolled for Obamacare plans.