Obamacare’s New Start

What’s in a surge?

One million and 100,000 enrollments in health-care insurance via the new federal exchanges opened under “Obamacare” is something short of the Obama administration’s goals for the program.

Yet that’s how many have signed up at healthcare.gov, the administration says, including more than 975,000 in December alone. In addition, another 850,000 or so have signed up at state-run exchanges.

It may be a slow start for an initiative that hoped to find insurance for more than 7 million Americans by the time health insurance becomes mandatory for most Americans under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Still, considering the “fumbled” roll-out of the exchanges that opened Oct. 1 — with President Barack Obama acknowledging at his year-end news conference that ``we screwed it up” — a couple million people looking at insurance coverage they didn’t have before is a start. And the administration is recruiting a CEO-styled leader to recruit more people — and ensure that the insurers actually get the information they need from the government.

The lead headline in the Washington Post today speaks of a “surge” — a popular term in Washington generally more associated with wars abroad.

Start may be the more appropriate term.

It’s not only the insurance coverage starting Jan. 1 for that 2 million who have signed up that’s new — providing they pay their first monthly premiums by Jan. 10. There are new protections under the law, including one preventing insurers from barring people with pre-existing medical conditions. See the report by Bloomberg’s Alex Wayne on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act starting this week.

And the White House, for its part, hopes to start a new line of news stories about a program that has been bedeviled with problems and bad publicity.

 

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