Obamacare is Open for Business
Today marks a huge milestone in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Health insurance marketplaces opened this morning and millions of Americans, many of whom are currently uninsured and may never before have had access to coverage, began shopping for a quality, affordable health plan.
In fact, President Obama said today that interest in the insurance marketplaces had exceeded all expectations. While this enormous amount of interest has led to some glitches (which the president said officials were working to address as quickly as possible), things are moving along in states across the country:
National website: A senior Obama administration official reported that just three hours after Obamacare’s open enrollment period launched, the national Healthcare.gov site had one million visitors. That’s five times more users on the site than the number of users who have ever visited Medicare.gov at the same time.
California: The Golden State celebrated its first Obamacare enrollee at 8:45 am Pacific Standard Time. Since then, state residents have tweeted that they’re “impressed” with how easy it is to use the exchange’s app, and the site is “working like a charm for Californians.”
Colorado: In Colorado, the exchange site opened for business at 8:00 am Mountain Standard Time. Three hours later, state officials had completed the first enrollments and the site had logged over 34,500 unique visitors.
Connecticut: Despite a few initial glitches with its website, Connecticut signed up its first Obamacare enrollee by 9:30 am. And at that point, 764 other people had active applications for the state’s exchange. “For a site that’s been up for 25 minutes, it’s not bad,” the CEO of Connecticut’s new insurance marketplace, Kevin Counihan, noted. By about 11:30 am, the state had logged 10,000 visitors to its website. By about 2:00 pm, state officials reported that they had fielded 17,000 phone calls from residents and enrolled 44 people for coverage.
District of Columbia: DC’s exchange opened for business at 8:00 am. By noon, about 1,500 DC residents had created accounts, according to a spokesperson for the exchange. Creating an account is the first step for people who want to shop for coverage and eventually buy a new plan under Obamacare. The District hasn’t yet experienced any issues with its website.
Florida: MSNBC reports that community health care clinics in Orlando are experiencing long lines as low-income people are visiting to learn more about their options under Obamacare. The CEO of a community clinic in Miami that primarily services uninsured Floridians told MSNBC that Tuesday represents a “new day” for low-income patients who can now gain affordable coverage.
Illinois: By noon on Tuesday, more than 42,000 people had visited the website for Illinois’ exchange.
Kentucky: Kentucky is the only Southern state that’s chosen to participate fully in health care reform by both expanding Medicaid and operating a state-level exchange. So far, it’s paying off. Between midnight and 10:30 am on Tuesday, Kentucky’s website had more than 24,000 visitors. The employees working to manage the exchange processed more than 1,000 applications for health insurance by 9:30 am.
New York: In the first two hours that New York’s exchange website was open to the public, 2 million people visited the site. That’s a huge chunk of the population that stands to benefit from Obamacare. Approximately 2.6 million New York residents are currently uninsured, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Rhode Island: After Kaiser Health News solicited feedback from people trying to sign up for Obamacare, a Rhode Island resident responded with a positive experience. “Rhode Island site working fine. So many choices at so many price points! Something 4 everyone. I’m ecstatic,” Annabelle Leigh tweeted.
Virginia: Paula Thornhill, a 31-year-old mother of seven, was the first person to apply for a new plan in Prince George’s County. Her husband has health insurance through his job, but they couldn’t afford to pay the extra premium costs to cover her as well. “I’m relieved that they did come out with this affordable health care,” she told the Washington Post. “I’m relieved.”
All of this comes in spite of the GOP’s multi-year effort to derail, delay and destroy Obamacare, which has now culminated in Republicans shutting down the federal government in a spiteful and desperate bid to stop millions of Americans from gaining the security of quality, affordable health care.
Want to get in on the Obamacare party? Here’s four things you can do right now:
Visit HealthCare.gov: This is the central hub for all things health care and will help you locate more information and sign up for coverage through one of the new marketplaces. As President Obama said today, check it out and “then show it to your family and your friends and help them get covered, just like mayors and churches and community groups and companies are already fanning out to do across the country.” Call the Obamacare hotline: Trained counselors are standing by at 1-800-318-2596 and can help callers in more than 150 different languages. Help educate yourself and your friends, family and coworkers: ThinkProgress put together 20 questions you have about Obamacare and are afraid to ask. Find answers to your own questions and then share this post on Facebook and Twitter. Show your support on social media: Visit GetCoveredAmerica.org and change your avatar on Twitter or your profile picture on Facebook to help spread the word that Obamacare is open for business and it’s time to #GetCovered.
BOTTOM LINE: Obamacare is the law of the land, isn’t going anywhere, and is working. Republicans may have closed down the government but the Obamacare insurance marketplaces are open for business and it’s time to get covered.