President Obama addressed the widespread dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act's federal marketplace Monday, expressing frustration with Healthcare.gov's tech glitches.
"Nobody's madder than me that the website isn't working as well as it should," Obama said. "Which means it's going to get fixed."
The marketplace launched on Oct. 1 and received an overwhelming number of applicants -- many met with error messages.
The Affordable Care Act is intended to provide health insurance for 7 million uninsured Americans, who must enroll via insurance marketplaces by Dec. 15 in order to have their coverage start on Jan. 1. Administration officials estimate the number of health insurance applications received through the exchanges at 476,000. To date, Healthcare.gov has been visited nearly 20 million times, Obama said.
In Healthcare.gov's first week, 3.7 million Americans attempted to register, with just more than a million of those finding success, according to data from the Compete panel of 2 million U.S. consumers.
The federal marketplace is used by 36 states, with 15 states and the District of Columbia operating their own exchanges.
Obama's speech emphasized the around-the-clock effort of contractors to fix the glitches, which prevented millions of Americans from successfully applying for healthcare. He suggested alternate application methods, such as calling the exchange hotline and applying in person.
Still, the President didn't provide specifics as to how exactly the glitches will be fixed. A New York Timesarticle published Monday estimated as many as five million lines of software code might need to be rewritten before the website runs properly, according to a specialist working on the project.
Obama recognized the issues with Healthcare.gov while emphasizing the importance of the Affordable Care Act outside of the website, including access to healthcare for those with preexisting conditions and the ability for people under 26 years old to stay on their parents' plan.
"There's no sugarcoating it," he said. "The website has been too slow … Precisely because the product is good, I want the cash registers to work, I want the checkout lines to be smooth, so I want people to be able to get this great product. And there's no excuse for the problems."
The bottom line? Be patient.
"I want everybody to remember that we're only three weeks into a six-month enrollment period when you can buy these new plans," Obama said. "These problems are getting fixed."
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