'The Lesser-Told Story'
Sebelius also introduced reporters to two people who'd successfully applied for new coverage through the Marketplace.
Among them were Michael Lappin, 44, and his partner John West, 49, who own a local mortgage company. They said they signed up for a new Humana policy that will jointly save them more than $5,200 a year over what they pay for their current policy. And that's without any financial help from the federal government. Their incomes are too high to qualify for tax credits.
They said that their deductible will drop from $1,500 to $1,000 a year, and they'll get better coverage with their new plan. "I don't think we're an exception,” Lappin said. “I think we're the lesser-told story."
"I think most people who are getting into it, who are patient with it and not expecting a miracle, are having a good experience," he added.
Sebelius acknowledged that the experience has not been a good one for many consumers.
"I have said repeatedly that the rollout has been very flawed, frustrating millions of Americans who want and need health insurance," she said. "I have apologized for those technical glitches."
She stressed that there were still 21 weeks left in the open enrollment period. She said the site should be functioning "much more optimally" by the end of November.
She also urged people to try other avenues to apply, including the Marketplace’s toll-free hotline and paper applications.
Many experts believe the long-term success of the new law depends on getting enough healthy, young adults to sign up for coverage. Younger adults in good health who use few medical services cost insurance companies less and help offset the expense of older and sicker patients. But those tech-savvy younger adults are less likely to sign up over the phone or mail in a form.
"Until that technical piece gets figured out, they're going to sit back and just watch. It's kind of reduced the confidence of the American public," said Ebrun Crowder, a navigator at Southside Medical Center.