HealthCare.gov: Hitches, Glitches Mark Debut of Exchanges

HealthCare.gov: Hitches, Glitches Mark Debut of ExchangesThe Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA or Obamacare, launched its online insurance exchanges, the heart of President Obama’s healthcare reform — and hopefully the beginning of reasonably inexpensive coverage for millions of Americans.
Glitches and heavy traffic slowed the start of the exchanges, but the very fact that they were functioning at all was a victory for the president and possibly consumers.
The ACA will provide subsidized health insurance based on income through the state exchanges, while expanding Medicaid coverage for the poor starting January 1.
The Department of Health and Human Services said 2.8 million people visited the federal HealthCare.gov since just past midnight Tuesday, with 81,000 reaching out to call centers and 60,000 requesting live chats.
The department did not provide details on the source of the traffic or the number of visitors who applied for health insurance.
The demand on the exchanges “exceeds anything that we had expected,” President Obama said at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.
The administration and various observers and participants in setting up the exchanges predicted hitches and gltiches that could last during the first few weeks of enrollment, which runs through the end of March. Officials last week announced delays for federal exchanges geared toward Spanish speakers and small businesses.
Coverage offered through the Marketplace includes a range of options so consumers can pick a plan that best meets their budget.
With one Marketplace application, a consumer will be able to see if they qualify for lower costs on health insurance based on income — or free or low-cost coverage available through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
No matter what state a consumer lives in, he or she will be able to use the Marketplace to apply for coverage, compare options, and enroll.
“Today marks the start of an intense six-month long open enrollment and public education campaign for the Marketplace,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.  “We want consumers to know that they can find and compare options, check if they qualify for lower costs, and get covered.”
Last week, the administration released prices for insurance plans offered on the exchange, with Americans paying an average premium of $328 monthly for a mid-tier plan.

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