Final hours to enroll in Obamacare
Despite a notoriously shaky start-up, the finish line has come at last for the Obama administration's campaign to enroll millions of Americans in Obamacare – the government subsidized health insurance system. Long lines are reported at some assistance centers, as people try to sign up before the midnight deadline Monday. White House officials claim they have met their target, signing up at least six million people through the online exchanges since October. But in an embarrassing echo of its earlier problems, last minute applicants also stumbled into tech troubles today.
In the final day to sign up for Obamacare, a glitch on healthcare.gov, the website used by the 36 states that are without their own state run insurance exchange. The site briefly displayed a message “system isn't available at the moment… We're currently performing maintenance.” A brief interruption, healthcare.gov was working again about four hours later. An Obama administration official says the site has seen a surge in traffic – more than 2 million visitors over the last weekend alone. The White House is hoping that will push enrollments to about 6.5 million people. The numbers may not tell the full story. There's no breakout of how many people had insurance plans before, and how many are getting health insurance for the first time.
“I think they're cooking the books on this,” said Wyoming Senator John Barasso, one of the skeptics. “Once all this is said and done, what kind of insurance will those people actually have? Will they be able to keep the doctor they want? How much more is it going to cost them?”
Here in California, the same deadline applies to sign up on the state-run insurance exchange called Covered California. Now that the enrollment phase is over, there are still some big unknowns. Will premiums quoted for this year jump next year? Will there be major coverage changes in the policies because of the change in the marketplace? And what happens to states like California, where many of the new enrollments are for Medicaid, the state subsidized health insurance system for the poor. All of those questions figure into the future of Obamacare.