Welcome to Obamacare: The president's health care reform law expands today
After surviving dozens of votes to repeal it in Congress, two elections fought over its existence, a Supreme Court that nearly ruled it unconstitutional and a Republican Party that shut down the government to stop it from going into effect, Obamacare lives.
Even as the federal government is in shutdown mode, Americans can now visit healthcare.gov to learn more about the new health insurance options under the law and purchase a new health care plan. Some states, such as California, also have their own individual websites where potential consumers can go. White House officials are going on television and radio to tout the law, as well as celebrities such as Jennifer Hudson, who appeared in a clever video to explain the benefits of “Obamacare.”
White House officials say they don’t expect a horde of the more than 40 million uninsured to enroll in new plans on Tuesday or even in the first month, but instead anticipate people will spend weeks learning more and likely get new insurance by the end of the year. It it estimated that more than seven million Americans will get insurance through the “marketplaces” under the law, while millions will also be newly eligible for Medicaid.
Administration officials expect the roll-out to include many glitches, particularly on the healthcare.gov website.
“I would suspect that there will be glitches,” Obama told National Public Radio in an interview.
All of that could change in a matter of months. Health insurance companies will have to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Middle-income Americans will be eligible for subsidies to make insurance much more affordable, while millions of others with very low incomes will qualify for effectively free insurance through Medicaid. The marketplaces under the law will make it easier for people who don’t insurance through work.
At the same time, Obamacare also rests on a series of hopes and expectations by the president and his team turning into reality.
Will young and healthy Americans enroll in plans, helping balance out the system and making sure health insurers don’t just get older and sick customers, which will result in them jacking up prices? Will doctors and hospitals, who are often wary of Medicaid patients, serve this new population? Will the confusion about the law, in part fed by Republicans who are against it, scare off even Obama supporters from enrolling? Can state government and the federal government successfully handle this huge task?