President Barack Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius listen as enrollees in the Affordable Care Act tell their stories in the Oval Office. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.
A little more than two weeks have passed since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace where Americans, regardless of their income, job status, or age or health status, can access quality, affordable health coverage. As I have been following the social and traditional media accounts of the launch of the Marketplace, I felt it was important to remind us all, as the President has also done, that Health Care reform is more than just a website. By focusing only on the website we run the risk of missing the forest for the trees and further slowing the important progress being made.
Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, there was no way to easily compare plans from different insurers. You and your family had to turn over personal health information to the insurance company, which insurers could then use to deny you coverage or increase your costs, and if you made a mistake or left anything off your application, you could have been at risk of being dropped by the company later on when you tried to file a claim.
Since its inception, the Affordable Care Act has helped more than 3 million young adults get coverage through their parents’ plan; delivered rebate checks to 8.5 million Americans though the 80/20 rule while increasing the value millions more Americans receive from their insurance coverage; protected more than 17 million children with a pre-existing condition from being discriminated against by an insurance company; and extended the solvency of Medicare by nearly a decade.
Like most expansive and ground-breaking initiatives, there is always room for enhancement. And, there will often be challenges in implementation. Fortunately, as a result of the continued hard work of technical experts, there are improvements every day to consumers’ experience in applying and enrolling in coverage. Initially, computer bottlenecks and window shoppers complicated the debut of the exchanges between you and the Marketplace’s health insurers. Now, wait times have been greatly reduced, and even eliminated, at the registration stage, and more people are actively shopping and comparing plans. Although the glitches are frustrating, millions of Americans without health care coverage is unacceptable. The Affordable Care Act provides families across the country with access to health care they would not otherwise have.
I know that buying insurance is a thoughtful and important decision. Many families are taking their time to consider their options before making a decision. Keep in mind, we have over 160 days left to go in the overall initial open enrollment period and you have until Dec. 15 to apply for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014. We will not stop improving HealthCare.gov until its doors are wide open, and at the end of the open enrollment, you and your loved ones gain affordable coverage. Don’t let the website challenges stop the progress. There are other options! As of now, there are four basic ways you can apply for and enroll in Marketplace coverage:
So whether it is online, over the phone, face-to-face, or via traditional mail, the Affordable Care Act marketplace puts health coverage and protection for you and your loved ones within easy reach.