Obamacare — October 18, 2013 at 8:55 am

Obamacare enrollment picks up as more Americans are getting covered


A few website glitches aren’t stopping people who want and need insurance coverage — including Republicans.

Republicans in Washington were willing to put the global economy at risk, not to mention the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Americans, to cripple Obamacare. They didn’t succeed. In fact, their temper tantrum over the last two weeks seems to have increased the popularity of the Affordable Care Act.

Or it could just be that as some of the initial wrinkles with the HealthCare.gov website are getting ironed out, more and more people are signing up.

The fact is that plenty of people are applying for coverage. Clearly, people want what the Affordable Care Act marketplaces are selling.

Especially promising numbers are coming out of the state-run insurance marketplaces. Sarah Kliff of The Washington Post reported that at least 185,000 people had applied for Obamacare as of October 16 — and that’s only data from 13 state-run marketplaces.

Data for the other marketplaces being run by states and the District of Columbia will be released on their own schedule. According to Kliff, the federal government has said it will release data for the 34 states participating in its marketplace next month.

UPDATE: On October 19, a White House official announced that about a half a million people have applied for Obamacare coverage.

What’s more, people are enthusiastic about what they’re finding on the federal marketplace.

In Mississippi, Meredith Stark, 29, was anxious to get covered. She has a chronic blood condition but, because she hasn’t been able to afford insurance, she’s been skipping the medication she needs. But she persisted and completed the online process — and was able to find coverage for herself and her husband that will cost just $60 a month.

Why didn’t she give up in frustration over the site’s technical issues, as some others have so far?

Because this is something we need. We have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. And, I am sorry, but not having health insurance denies life.

Flora Alexandra Brewer of Fort Worth, Texas, has been paying $1,900 a month for coverage for herself, her husband and one of their sons. She’s had trouble logging into the website, so instead called the toll-free number listed on Healthcare.gov (1-800-318-2596) and completed the enrollment process in 15 minutes. She’ll get a packet in the mail to complete the enrollment process — and expects to save about $500 a month.

And then there’s Joshua Pittman, a 31-year-old self-employed videographer from Montgomery, Alabama, who is a libertarian Republican. He considers Barack Obama’s presidency “a failure” and initially supported repeal of Obamacare. He’d gone without insurance for years, thinking he didn’t need it, but an illness earlier this year made him re-think that.

Quoted in Think Progress, Pittman had this to say:

I’ve seen first hand people hitting up the emergency room for free health care and then putting a burden on [everyone else] and that’s not something I would want to do, I want to take personal responsibility … By no means am I trying to take a government handout…it’s not a free handout, you’re paying for this health care, but it’s making it more accessible to more people.

He was among the first to sign up for coverage at Healthcare.gov, purchasing a Bronze-level plan (the group of plans with the lowest-priced premiums, other than plans that only provide catastrophic coverage).

Pittman has obviously changed his tune about repealing Obamacare — and thinks Republicans should drop the crusade. What’s more, he believes more and more members of his party will enroll.

I think there are Republicans that are all types of people who are making these decisions and they’re not basing them on political party. It’s just common sense kind of things. And I think that’s the only way we’re going to make a change in this country if people start thinking on those lines, instead of political party lines.

Improvements are being made to the functionality at HealthCare.gov day by day, so more and more people are enrolling. If you live in a state that’s running its own marketplace, you can link to it from there. You have until December 15 to get covered by January 1, and can continue enrolling through March 31 for 2014.