Obama administration officials said on Monday that they expect to meet their targets for enrolling the uninsured in Obamacare despite the well publicized glitches in HealthCare.gov — the federal government’s online portal for buying health care coverage in the law’s new marketplaces.
Speaking to reporters after President Obama publicly addressed the law’s rocky roll out from the White House, senior administration officials expressed confidence that the public’s enthusiasm for obtaining coverage and the alternative pathways for signing-up for insurance will ensure that the law is successful. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that seven million people will sign up for insurance in the health care exchanges between October and March, including 2.7 million young and healthy people.
The officials pointed to past experiences in Massachusetts and Medicare Part D, where individuals waited until the final week and days to enroll, and predicted that Obamacare would follow a similar trajectory.
“It would have been better from our perspective that there not be glitches that occurred in the system and the technology worked flawlessly from beginning to end. That’s not the case and that’s our responsibility now,” a senior administration official said. “Importantly, just given the way what we saw in Massachusetts and given the way we expect people to come back, it’s mid-to-late November and then in December is when the actual shopping — the real shopping — in the marketplaces begin and so obviously we build to that.”
“How long do we expect [until the website is fixed]? I think that’s unclear,” the official said. “I can’t say to you right now whether it’s a day or a week. What I do know, is that we are throwing everything at it 24/7 and the amplification of these other ways to get access is an important thing to do.”
“It’s our expectation that the ability of folks to go through beginning to end will be sufficiently enhanced by the time we hit November that folks can go through,” the official said and explained that in the meantime, the uninsured will sign up for coverage through call centers, local navigators, and community centers.
Asked if the administration had the necessary flexibility to delay the individual mandate or the penalties associated with failing to obtain coverage should Obamacare fail to meet its enrollment targets, the official stressed “we are not there at all yet.” “If we get there, that would be a possibility, but right now we believe that the pathway forward allows us to work under the law as established.”