The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that more than 6 million Americans have obtained health insurance through the new health care law, a major achievement for the president and his team, which has been sharply criticized for a sloppy rollout of “Obamacare” that included a website that barely functioned for weeks.
In the last three months, according to the administration, about 2.1 million Americans have enrolled in private health care plans through the law. Another 3.9 million have been determined eligible for either Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, both of which were expanded under the so-called Affordable Care Act.
These numbers vindicated the administration, which had predicted that the struggles of October, when Americans across the country complained about the website, would not permanently harm the health care program. Only 106,000 Americans enrolled in private plans in October, far below expectations, but more than 1 million did in December. Administration officials had predicted enrollment would surge in December, as that was the deadline for purchasing insurance that would start by Jan 1.
To be sure, many, many questions remain. Some of the people who enrolled in “Obamacare” were forced to because the law effectively invalidated their previous health insurance. It’s not clear if they or the newly-insured under the law will like their new health coverage, which will in some cases have high deductibles and limited choices in terms of hospitals and doctors.
The administration has refused to release estimates of the age and health status of the people who enrolled in the new health care plans, suggesting that the newly-insured are disproportionately older people despite the administration’s strong push to make sure younger Americans also enrolled.
And having health insurance does not necessarily mean people still won’t go bankrupt because of an illness or practice better health habits, two primary goals of the legislation.
But the “Obama” part of Obamacare appears now to be working. The government’s woeful performance in the first days of the health care rollout left the president apologizing to the American public while at the same time reshuffling his staff to prevent future problems. But the website HealthCare.gov is now functioning for most people who want to enroll in health insurance, as are the websites in various states.