President Obama: 1 Million People Have Signed Up for Obamacare

WASHINGTON—His health care plan facing a dicey transition, President Barack Obama said Friday that insurance sign-ups are surging now that the government’s website is working better for consumers. But it was too soon to say the rollout has turned the corner.

More than 1 million people have enrolled since Oct. 1, Obama said at his end-of-the-year press conference. That’s more than two-and-a-half times the number on Nov. 30, when major fixes to the website were completed. At that point, only 365,000 had signed up through new federal and state markets offering subsidized private insurance.

“That is a big deal,” Obama said of getting coverage for uninsured people. “That’s why I ran for this office.”

Separately, officials said 3.9 million people have qualified for government health care through the law’s Medicaid expansion. Even so, things aren’t exactly humming along. was down for part of the day Friday, as technicians attempted to fix an error that occurred Thursday night when the site was undergoing routine maintenance, officials explained.

The administration cannot afford for the balky website to crash this weekend. Because of Monday’s deadline to sign up so coverage can take effect Jan. 1, unusually heavy traffic is expected on the federal site and those run by states.

Largely hidden from consumers, another set of technical problems is frustrating insurers, who say the government continues to send them inaccurate data on some enrolled individuals. Insurers call some of those jumbled enrollment files “orphans” and others “ghosts.”

They could turn into gremlins after Jan. 1 for some patients trying to use their new coverage. Consumers might show up at the pharmacy counter or doctor’s office only to be told they’re not in the system.

That’s not the only potential issue. Administration officials are scrambling to prevent breaks in coverage among more than 4 million people whose individual policies were cancelled this fall because they did not meet the law’s requirements. An estimated 500,000 have yet to secure new coverage. On Thursday, the administration said those individuals would not be penalized for remaining uninsured, and that they could also have access to special bare-bones catastrophic insurance plans.

The president minimized the significance of that accommodation Friday, calling it a net to catch a small number of people who may slip through the cracks.

Still tinkering with the website, the administration now faces crucial deadlines within a two-week stretch.

The last day to sign up for coverage to take effect with the new year is Monday. And Jan. 1 is the day the people can start using their new policies. Starting then, the law forbids insurers from turning away people with pre-existing medical conditions. The law’s mandate that virtually all Americans carry coverage also goes into place, although uninsured people can avoid a tax penalty if they pick a plan by Mar. 31.

The stakes are much higher now than Oct. 1, when went live. It’s not just that the president’s political reputation has been tarnished by website woes and insurance cancellations.

The risk now is that ordinary people with pressing medical needs will suffer harm if the transition to coverage is fumbled. If that happens, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will face a new round of demands for her resignation.

“Implementing the website is the relatively easy part,” said Mark McClellan, who oversaw the problematic rollout of the Medicare prescription drug benefit for President George W. Bush. “Implementing the coverage itself involves a lot more things that could go wrong, and there’s a lot more at stake.

“It was possible for people to wait a month or two to use the website,” McClellan added. “People who need care on Jan. 1 are not going to be able to wait a month or two to get it.” McClellan is now a health policy expert with the nonpartisan Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank.

Obama was feeling optimistic Friday. In first three weeks of December, more than 500,000 people signed up through the federal website, he noted. On Oct. 1, only a handful managed to enroll successfully.

Crossing the 1 million mark was a milestone, but the administration’s own estimates called for 3.3 million to enroll by Dec. 31. The target now is 7 million by the end of open enrollment on Mar. 31.

In Florida on Friday, Lisa Hulsey wasn’t feeling very confident. She had waited nearly an hour to sign up for health insurance with a counselor because the website was down. The couple before Hulsey zipped through in less than an hour and chose a midrange silver plan.

Hulsey, a paralegal, had employer insurance at no cost to her. But her company is no longer offering coverage, instead pushing employees into the federal marketplace where they may qualify for subsidies.

“I’m hungry. I’m frustrated. It should work,” said Hulsey. She was leaving this weekend to visit her family in Alabama and did not know when she would have time to try again before Monday’s deadline.

Category: US Politics

  • bastalready

    The Gop will not like this.

    • doctorwang

      The GOP doesn’t like anything that ends up reflecting positively on the Obama administration. But I’m sure (at least for now) they’re too busy defending their new hero- Papa Duck Commando Guy- to notice this milestone.

      • bastalready

        I know… eeesh.

        • Mary Halverson Wagner

          The insurance companies have to go.

          • bastalready

            I agree.

      • Pony

        The ACA is a halfbaked scheme between a single payer and private insurance. Now someone explain why with control of the house snd senate he didn’t brass plate his cohonies and go for a real overhaul instead of selling us into the waiting arms of FOR PROFIT INSURANCE PROVIDORS. Oh yes indeed I would have went kicing and screaming yelling and flailing muttering about socialism under my breath. But it would have been a workable system if implemented in stages. What passed is a pile of poo pie thats going to be one of those reno projects that go on forever.

      • Jennifer Williams

        Yeah, sure, one million people have signed up for health care…too bad 2/3’s of them are getting tax-payer funded state aid….yepp….going to be an epic fail for sure!

  • MFEO

    My 67-year-old uncle suffered from a heart attack last year which required an operation. He has medical insurance fortunately. After the operation, he told me that if he was under Obama’s healthcare act, he would have died. If you’re an elder, the decision to operate on you will be placed in the hands of others (not doctors). Those individuals factor in the risk of operating on you, taking into consideration your age and likelihood of surviving the operation. If you’re old and even though you have a good chance of surviving the operation, the odds of approving your operation is slim.

    • bastalready

      He’s on medicare, no?

      • tense641

        I don’t believe MFEO if he does have an uncle 67 y/o of course he has Medicare Part A, Parts B and D.

        • bastalready

          I know. ; )

      • abxnomore

        An informed person would have known that.

    • doctorwang

      “if he was under Obama’s healthcare act, he would have died.”

      Really? And what were the specific reasons he gave that had brought him to that conclusion? And please don’t tell me he heard it on FOX…

      • tense641

        You have no sense of humor.

    • ibwilliamsi

      My uncle’s 104 year old mother’s sister had an infected toe. She has health insurance from her job pulling freight for long haul trucks. My uncle’s mother’s sister’s husband’s daughter told me that my uncle’s 104 year old mother’s sister would have died under Obama’s healthcare act.

      Given the veracity of our stories, it must be true.

    • abxnomore

      If one is elderly or over 65 you are entitled to Medicare. Where do you get your information from??? Medicare works just fine.

    • abxnomore

      I’m sorry your brain surgery didn’t go well but that was pre-Obamacare.

    • Canukistani

      “If you’re an elder, the decision to operate on you will be placed in the hands of others (not doctors).”

      Your uncle may have been mistaken.

      I would have thought that at that age he would have medicare, but I’m not all that familiar with the way you do things in the US. If I need medical attention I get it. The year before last my elderly mother was in the hospital for 4 months. Total cost to me was about $150.00 Canukistani rubles for the ambulance ride (uhh, that’s Canadian dollars to you – probably about $130 or so of yours). The waiting list may be a problem, but that’s not always the case and wasn’t in hers, contrary to what you may have heard.

      That aside, if I’m mistaken about medicare, in the good old days those decisions were either made by his insurance company who had a vested interest in saving money or his family who might have to mortgage the house and/or spend years tryng to pay the bills.

      They weren’t made by doctors, although they may have had some input – I hope so. This is what you find more appealing? In that case, abxnomore (below this comment) is correct. The brain surgery did not go as you’d hoped and you have my sympathy as well.

    • Gin1234

      Such as who? Medicare will not change as far as being any different than it has been, and since that was a year ago, your uncle has no way of knowing that he would have died under the ACA. Your uncle is buying into the disinformation that has been spread as you are, yourself.

      • tense641

        He’s lying.

    • madkoz

      Explain how my mother in law with no insurance just got a new cornea?

      • tense641

        Morning madkoz, I think MFEO is nothing more than a troll.

    • CatrionaMacA

      Your “67-year-old uncle” is on Medicare, surely.

    • imusintheevening

      No one over the age of 65 will be covered under “Obama’s health care” LAW.

      They will be covered under MEDICARE, which has been around for 48 years already unless they are still working and their employer’s health care is a better option for them and they are willing to pay a penalty for NOT signing up.

  • abxnomore

    Well this is no surprise at all. Millions were waiting and are now happy to have to finally have chance at obtaining medical insurance. Sorry, republicans and cons but despite the problems with the website and the GOP scare tactics, people are still eager to sign up for Obamacare even in Kentucky!

    • jbiot

      KY is the poster child for the ppaca. The governor is behind it, the website kynect works, the Medicaid expansion was embraced, and the state put a lot of resources in the field. 1 in 5 in KY do not have health insurance, and the aca fixes that. KY shows what happens when all of the players come to play, even while the state’s two senators talk nonsense.

      • abxnomore

        Yes, it’s great. Too bad the other red state governors didn’t follow suit.

    • grp61

      Maybe it’s because half of Kentucky is on some form of Government assistance !

  • Gin1234

    In some ways the glitch that happened with the website was a beneficial development. By October 1st, I doubt there were very many who were aware of the whole process, the deadline or anything else. Since the difficulties with the website, people have been much more focused and there is more information available. It would have been great if it had gone well on October 1st, but that could not honestly have happened. All the time that should have been spent educating people about the ACA by both sides ahead of time, was all wasted due to the republicans faux show put on for their base to get their support and votes. The Democrats should also have spent more time in education as well as the Administration, but that is all water under the bridge and we can just hope for better in the future.

  • tense641

    Since I was laid off 2 yrs. ago at age 60 I of course hadn’t had ins. During the middle of Oct. I met with a facilitator, gave her a list of insurance cos. my doctor’s office worked with, decided how much coverage I wanted and it was done. This past Thursday I paid my 1st premium for January. Things couldn’t have been easier.

    And don’t forget to click the star!!

    • 1mrt1

      I hope you enjoy your info being compromised..hahahah dummy

      • CatrionaMacA

        … but at least tense641 won’t go bankrupt if/when he requires treatment for an injury or a disease, as he would have done prior to his enrolling in Obamacare.

        Cate, in Brittany, where she and her family are covered by ‘La Sécu’, the French Sécurité Sociale, and an inexpensive mutuelle santé

        • tense641

          CatrionaMacA, some people are just against it because of the President being attached to the ACA, whatever he is for they are automatically against….it’s just a given.

          • CatrionaMacA

            You are right. And yet… this contempt goes way beyond hatred of Obama, right to the people who were uninsurable and needing access to affordable care under the old system.

          • tense641

            Their disdain does include the uninsurable and those who couldn’t afford to pay for medical coverage but their hatred begins with him, he’s the President being part Black with a Black family. They believe that a person of color shouldn’t be president (they don’t believe a person of color can make decisions) nor should a family of color live in the WH and this is where their hatred begins and it’s as simple as that. Their hatred moves on and spreads to everything else that President Obama if for.

          • CatrionaMacA

            “Their disdain does include the uninsurable and those who couldn’t afford to pay for medical coverage….”

            …which is the reason I left the US, emigrated to Britain, and became a British citizen. If I were still living in the US I would be slowly going blind and confined to a wheelchair.

          • tense641

            If I could follow in your footsteps I would CatrionaMacA. I understand perfectly why you would make that decision, I used to work in the nursing field and was laid off a couple of years ago a month away from my 61st birthday. A country as rich as this shouldn’t be going through this. How are you doing now that your there stable?

          • CatrionaMacA

            Thank you. I am doing very well. I work, pay my taxes, raise my family, and am an active member of the community. I’d never go back to the US.

            I wish you well.

          • tense641

            Here’s wishing you and your family all of the best in the coming new year and hope to see you around the threads.

    • grp61

      Sounds like a PR Story for Obama Care to me ! BS’ER !

  • madkoz

    I still hear lots of complaints about the ACA. Funny thing about those complaints is they never recognize the reason we have the ACA is because what we had was a failure. What we had prevented people with pre existing conditions to get insurance, raised rates continuously, kicked you off the plan whenever they wanted and of course fooled you into thinking that the crappy plan you paid for would work if you got sick. People believed the emergency room was health care when it isn’t and never will be. This is only a first step at correcting a healthcare system that was out of control and did not work.
    The best thing about it is how aware people are of how bad our health care system was and would have continued to be if we did nothing. The first steps are painful, change is scary and people reacted to those things.
    Even though the conversation has been negative, the conversation has begun and from that conversation bigger problems can be solved.

  • herefornow

    My only complaint has been the continued involvement of insurance companies, but I’ve finally realized their removal can’t be accomplished overnight.

    • jbiot

      I share your frustration. Keep in mind that there is a new minimum loss ratio in the PPACA that forces insurers to put 80% of your premium dollar toward healthcare improvements. This is something that insurers fought mightily. Unfortunately it may be possible to game the system.

      My bottom line is that you have to crawl before you walk, and with the patient protections of hr3590 as well as the tax credits and the Medicaid extension, it’s worth making the best of the bill.

      It’s a comprehensive bill with legs and there’s always the public option as a potential addition if the insurance companies kill the golden goose. And then further down the road there’s single payer.

      • herefornow

        Thank you jbiot. That’s some life affirming info.

  • Tosheba

    Hey, Barry, news flash. There are 317,280,775 citizens in America. One million signed up for Obama-Don’t-Care? Of course you consider that a success story. We would expect nothing less from you.

    • tense641

      Well when you have almost 30 tcon govenors with tcon legislatures who refuse to participate and who refuse to accept federal help with increasing Medicaid assistance the question is Tosheba what do you expect?? Let’s not even begin to bring up Texas okay? Now one of those governors has now taken to threatening facilitators who help people navigate… you’re just silly and let me assure you that when I use the word ‘silly’ I am being kind. You have a good day.

    • geezer 56

      News flash: The ACA is only for people who don’t get health insurance through their employers–like me. Now redo your math.

    • Hazelhill

      Those who already have insurance do not need to sign up. Of the estimated 50 million who have no insurance through employers, the ACA was expected to cover 30 million with an estimated 7 million signing up in the first year and 23 million in the second year. Signing up one million, against a target of seven million is not great but it is a whole lot better than your math.

  • bilejones

    One notices that Barry doesn’t mention how many of his “million” (and does anyone believe this number?) have signed up for Medicaid- i.e. welfare, rather than his exchanges.

  • OdummiePOSusurper.

    Thank you for our Ohomocare gift this Xmas this is all I could have ever wanted thank you thank you thank you I owe my total existence to you Odummie ………

  • Steve from Ohio

    This guy lies so are we to believe that one million signed up? I think most Americans are voting against Obamacare by not signing up. They are practicing what Gandhi called passive resistance.

  • grp61

    One million illegals !

  • jay67

    liar, liar pants on fire. Is anything that comes out of his twisted narcissistic reality a country mile from truth anymore? Do people even care what he says or does anymore? Go take more vacations and leave us alone. You have already done more then enough damage to the middle class.

  • abinico

    Obamacare, yeah, it’s all about health, healthy profits for the medical industry that is. Just keep in mind, the medical industry kills about 200,000 yearly, and now you are forced to be a victim. Lovely.

  • Defiant

    ROFLMAO! A MILLION, huh? IF there were any questions left at this point, as to whether or not Obama has completed his journey to dictatorship, this would sure quaff them. This is the HALLMARK of a dictator. They conceal the source data for the questions they don’t like the answers to…then make-up statistics! Just like the Libs’ “data” on gun violence.



    • herefornow

      What makes you think we’ve EVER been told the real score, Vidal?
      Your anger is justified, but should be aimed at the wildly greedy HMOs that have increasingly corrupted the entire healthcare system since John Ehrlichman first explained their craven intent to Richard Nixon in the 70’s, and they chortled as they ushered in the depraved monstrosity.