Online health insurance Marketplaces offering coverage to uninsured Americans opened Tuesday in all 50 states to reports of widespread computer glitches that government officials scrambled to fix throughout the day.
The long-anticipated launch was heralded by President Obama as a first-time opportunity for more than 41 million uninsured Americans to get reasonably priced health insurance. Administration officials downplayed the problems in the opening hours. They said getting to the federally operated Marketplaces, located at Healthcare.gov, was either a slow or impossible process because computer systems were overwhelmed.
She would not provide any details on how many enrolled Tuesday, but said "we can confirm that people have enrolled." She said the administration is working on "a schedule" of when the information on enrollment will be released.
Tavenner said at a press conference that the widely reported problem with security questions was fixed. But one reporter said she had just tried healthcare.gov and still couldn’t get through. Tavenner said that fixes were working their way through the system.
In a briefing with reporters, Obama said: “There have been times this morning where the site has been running more slowly than it normally will because more than 1 million people visited healthcare.gov before 7 in the morning. We are going to speed things up in the next few hours to handle all this demand that exceeds anything that we expected.”
The Marketplaces, also called Exchanges, are a cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act. They're supposed to allow people to go onto a computer and shop for health insurance policies. Federal tax credits will be available, depending upon income.
Open enrollment will last until March 31, 2014. New benefits take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, for those who sign up by Dec. 15, 2013.
For days, Obama administration officials tried to set expectations low and cautioned that there may be technology problems on opening day.