HealthCare.gov is Working; Deadline to Enroll is December 23

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It's time for Republicans to dust off the old Obamacare-is-socialist attacks, because HealthCare.gov is open for business. Acknowledging that “poor execution in the first couple months on the web site clouded the fact that there are a whole bunch of people who stand to benefit,” the Obama Administration is now encouraging traffic to the site and reminding everyone that the deadline to receive coverage on January 1, 2014, is December 23.  

On just Sunday and Monday of this week, 29,000 people selected and enrolled in health plans through HealthCare.gov, which surpasses the website's record for the entire month of October. And over one million people accessed the HealthCare.gov website on both Monday and Tuesday of this week without any major issues, thanks in part to a new online queue or “waiting room” that puts users on hold if the site gets too crowded.  

If you don't have health insurance, it's time to get a move on. Starting January 1, almost everyone who doesn't have health insurance will have to pay a fee, in addition to paying all health care costs out of pocket. Despite the fact that it's generally the same price to pay the fee or get health insurance, a recent Gallup poll finds that “Republicans without health insurance are just as likely to pay the fine imposed by the federal health-care law as they are to obtain coverage to avoid the penalty” at a rate of 46 to 45 percent. Meanwhile, 80 percent of Democrats plan to get coverage, while only 15 percent plan to pay the penalty.

In a spirit similar to that of the Republicans who would rather pay higher costs and forego coverage than accept the ACA, Texas is trying to make it as hard as possible for you to enroll. Read how after the jump.In rules proposed Tuesday by Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber, Texas health care navigators (whose job is to help consumers enroll in health insurance) would be required to prove their citizenship or employment, undergo a background check, show evidence of financial responsibility and participate in 40 hours of privacy standards education. This is on top of the already- required training on health plans, privacy and security standards and ACA eligibility. At the end of all this, navigators in Texas would still be prohibited from providing any explicit advice to consumers.

Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the federal Department of Health and Human Services, points out the hypocrisy of these inordinately burdensome regulations on health care navigators: “The navigator program is similar to Medicare counselors, which have existed for years and never faced this kind of scrutiny from Texas.” The proposed rules will be published in the Texas Register on Friday, and public comments will be accepted until January 6. While there will be an opportunity to weigh in, it's likely that the rules will go into effect in early 2014.

But despite the best efforts of Texas or the many other naysayers, the reality is that the Affordable Care Act is still the law and is now providing life-saving opportunities for millions of people, as well as not-insignificant consequences for those who continue to thumb their nose at it.  

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About Author

Emily Cadik

Emily is a Texas ex-pat and proud Longhorn living in Washington, DC, where she remains connected to the Lone Star State through her work on BOR and her enthusiasm for breakfast tacos. She works on affordable housing policy, and writes about health care, poverty and other social justice issues.

5 Comments

  1. Confused?
    First I believe the fine is a tax. In fact I believe that was a decision the Supremes made in order to keep it constitutional. Second are you saying that for about the same as the fee/ tax I can purchase healthcare coverage? Is that fee per week? That's about what I pay now. 375/mo. Of course I have shopped and would be looking at 450+ on O care. I'm thinking if its generally about the same to get coverage as it is to pay the fee I'm in. But apparently missing the math.

  2. fortunately
    The % of Rs & Ds signing up won't make or break however those under 29 are even less likely to sign up than Rs. 29% are likely or definite enrollees while 40% are 50/50 and the remainder are definitely not or unlikely. That's what will make or break the financial viability.

  3. ScalesOnYourEyes on

    costs
    http://money.cnn.com/2013/08/1

    I don't know about you but by my math, as a healthy young adult, it's a lot cheaper to go on without insurance until they fix this disaster of a site. You can still run simple sql injections and pull confidential info from its database right from the front end, and a “waiting room” on the front end is a sorry fix for a site that should be able to support high volume traffic on the back end. I'll pass.

    • So I guess…
      …you don't know anyone who suddenly needed insurance and didn't have it? No trips to the ER, no broken bones, no cold that wouldn't go away, no sinus infection?

      There's no reason why those situations can't and won't be yours.



      You're probably not female, or else you might be interested in the free annual exams from your OBGYN or the ability to be screened for cervical cancer every year for free. You're probably blessed not to come from a family with a history of cancer or heart disease or diabetes, where you need regular screenings or care. Perhaps you never destroyed your knees or shoulders playing sports or got a freak migraine that landed you in the ER and came with a $55,000 hospital bill.

      But lots of people have had those experiences, and if they see your ignorant comment, they need to realize that we're all better off when we're all healthy, have access to preventative care, and can go to the doctor in a real emergency without putting it off or being afraid of the cost. Plus, there are subsidies available for folks with lower incomes.

      I guess you'll just be a free-loader on a system that will keep a lot of your friends and family members healthy. And then, should something happen, you won't be covered. That's pretty lame.  

      • ScalesOnYourEyes on

        .
        I don't need a $200/month premium plan with a ridiculous deductible to cover colds and sinus infections.

        And no, I'm not female. If I needed routine care, I wouldn't object to paying more for being someone who needed more services than someone like my real person, who doesn't. I'd be personally responsible. But I'm a healthy male and I rarely ever go to the doctor.

        And yes, I suppose since I can't be denied based on pre-existing conditions, I'm going to just be a free-loader on a system that allows me to do so and makes no economic sense for me not to. I'll sign up whenever something happens and I absolutely need it. I'll then be covered. Not lame at all!

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