On October 1st, even as the federal government was shutting down, HealthCare.gov -- the new Health Insurance Marketplace where people can find and apply for affordable health insurance plans as part of Obamacare -- opened for business nationwide.
As you may have heard, the website launch hasn’t gone nearly as smoothly as it should have. And with nearly 20 million visits to the site in the first several weeks, the problems were aggravated by the website's popularity.
But even in spite of those problems, thousands of Americans are currently signing up and saving money. Nearly half a million Americans have already applied for health insurance through the federal and state Marketplaces. It's not hard to see why: Once people get through the door, they overwhelmingly like the benefits and cost of the products available to them -- especially when compared with the discriminatory private market that was previously the only game in town.
Some of the best and brightest are now doing everything they can to fix the site as quickly as possible. People are working overtime, 24/7, and we've brought in some of the best IT experts from across the country to join the team at the federal agency responsible for running the Marketplace. And as President Obama said today, "Nobody's madder than me about the fact that the website isn't working as well as it should, which means it's going to get fixed."
It's also important to remember that the website is not the only way to enroll. You can dial the call center at 1-800-318-2596 and apply directly over the phone. Typically, it takes about 25 minutes for an individual or about 45 for a family. You can also find local "navigators" who can help you enroll in person at LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.
Learn more about what we're doing to make the site better and enrollment easier.
The President is the first to admit that the website's problems are unacceptable. But Obamacare is more than just a website. Most Americans already have health insurance through their employer, Medicare, or Medicaid, and they don't need to go to the Marketplace for new coverage. Instead, the health care law provides new benefits and increased protection: Young people can stay on their parents' insurance plans until they are 26, seniors are receiving more affordable prescription medicine, and preventive care like mammograms are free.
So while there are major improvements to make on the new website, millions of Americans are already benefiting from the health care law. And we're making sure that those who don't have access to affordable health insurance today can sign up -- online, on the phone, and even in person.
Here are some of the things we've done in the meantime to make the process easier. Take a look, and pass this message along to those you know who are trying to sign up for health care:
- You can now preview plans and prices available in your area without filling out the online application.
- You can find out, with an improved calculator, whether your income and household size may qualify you for lower costs on your monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
- You can apply for coverage 4 ways: by phone, online, by mail with a paper application, or with the help of an in-person assister.
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