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Poll: Most Americans say health exchange launch failed

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Most say launch of health exchanges failed

It’s been just over a week since Obamacare launched open enrollment, allowing Americans to shop “exchanges”, which are essentially online marketplaces for buying health insurance. So how are these marketplaces doing?

Although early reports gave the marketplaces a “G” for GLITCH, a new AP-GfK poll reveals that seven percent of Americans say that they or someone in their household has tried to sign up for health insurance through the exchanges.

That’s a small percentage to be sure, especially considering that 75 percent of that 7 percent who checked out the health exchanges reported having problems when they tried to sign up.

Steve Waldo is a Carmel, Indiana counselor who managed to get onto the exchange website and look at some of the plans being offered, but he said that he was disappointed that what he found cost more than the current health insurance he and his wife already have.

“From everything I had heard and researched, I really thought I would find an affordable plan that met our family’s need’s,” Waldo admitted. “So, yeah, you could say I was disappointed, although a part of me wasn’t completely surprised because I’d been hearing news reports about costs varying from state to state.”

Like the 75% polled who reported having trouble accessing the online exchanges, Waldo said it took a few tries before he actually got into the system.

The poll also found that 40 percent of Americans reported saying they did not think the launch of the marketplaces went well, with just 20 percent reporting it went somewhat well, and 30 percent reporting they didn’t know what to say.

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Among those who support the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, only 19 percent said they believe the launch went extremely well or very well, while 40 percent reported it going somewhat well, and 18 percent saying it went not too well or not well at all.

The poll offers an early ‘report card’ of sorts that gives a glimpse into the status of the new health insurance exchanges, which remain a key part of the sweeping legislation passed by the federal government under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

While the White House administration has yet to release any statistics regarding how much traffic HealthCare.gov has received, they claim that problems related to accessing the site has to do with millions of unique visitors trying to get in at once.

According to White House senior communications adviser Tara McGuinness, they are working around the clock "to improve the consumer experience." She also notes that the poll was taken just days after the administration rolled out the exchanges.

"The overwhelming attention from millions of Americans checking out HealthCare.gov during the first few days is a good testament to the interest of Americans in new affordable health options," McGuiness added.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that about 7 million uninsured Americans will get health insurance coverage through the online marketplaces next year, which is also when Obamacare will require most Americans to obtain insurance or otherwise have to pay a penalty.

There have been reports that some may opt to pay the penalty instead because it’s cheaper than the cost of a premium. By 2016, however, the price you pay if penalized shoots up significantly and is expected to increase further over time.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted between October 3-7, using KnowledgePanel, GfK's probability-based online panel.

Reference: HealthCare.gov