Obamacare Glass Half Full?

Right now, almost two weeks into enrollment, it’s hard to tell: Is the Obamacare glass half full, empty, or just a bloody mess?

It does seem like the team behind Obamacare has avoided the nightmare scenario of having no takers. Health insurance exchanges have been flooded with millions of people shopping for health insurance. They’ve seen so much traffic that the federal site has been plagued with outages and technical glitches as Obama’s tech wizards have struggled to keep up.

In some places, the problems have been so bad that people are resorting to paper and pencil.

If not for the government shutdown providing a distraction, the headlines might have been about the bloody mess of Obamacare. Says Ezra Klein in the Washington Post:

Obamacare’s launch has been awful. More than a week after the federal insurance marketplaces opened, most people can’t purchase insurance on the first try. But Republicans have chosen such a wildly unpopular strategy to oppose it that they’ve helped both Obamacare and its author in the polls.

This could’ve been a week when Republicans crystallized the case against Obamacare. Instead it’s been a week in which they’ve crystallized the case against themselves.

How well it’s going seems to depend in part on where you live. In California, where state officials embraced the rollout and invested in pursuing seven million uninsured Californians, the effort seems to be gaining momentum. Says Peter Lee, Executive Director of Covered California:

The numbers so far blew the socks off initial expectations. You can’t derail something when it has already left the station. We are going very strong.

The story in Florida provides a contrast. The Republican legislature did everything they could to resist Obamacare from the outset. And now the blame is shifting to the federal government. People who want to sign up finding nothing but frustration in the website for the federal health insurance marketplace.

If the Republicans can get the spotlight off themselves for shutting down the government, you might start to hear more about how badly botched the federal Obamacare website (healthcare.gov) has been. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says, “We’re working really around the clock to fix it.”

Some media reports suggest that it may take months to fix all the problems. An AP survey found that 90% of people who tried to buy insurance on the federal exchange were blocked by technical problems.

For the moment, Republicans are clearly missing a golden opportunity to get their message out.

Click here and here to read more in the New York Times, click here to read more in the Huffington Post, and click here to read more from Reuters.

Glass More Than Half Full, photograph © Paul Aloe / flickr

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