Obamacare’s opening day drew millions of consumers to health insurance exchanges. Supporters of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, are hoping that, if the websites stay up and running, this sweeping attempt to get America insured, and healthier, will be a success.
In New York, officials said their exchange had 2.5 million visitors in its first half hour yesterday. California reported as many as 16,000 hits a second. And U.S. officials recorded 2.8 million visitors to the federal website, HealthCare.gov, even as it fought technical problems much of the day.
The difficulties with the online insurance marketplaces gave new ammunition to Republicans who say the Affordable Care Act doesn’t work. President Barack Obama countered that the volume gives “a sense of how important this is to millions of Americans,” and administration officials said marketing of the exchanges will now start to pick up steam.
“Anything short of a calamity on day one is a victory,” said Dan Mendelson, chief executive officer of Washington-based consultant Avalere Health LLC. “It’s all about message and repetition, and making sure it’s accessible.”
While the federal site, which serves 36 states, was inaccessible for much of yesterday, administrators “added capacity and made adjustments” to put it back into service by late afternoon, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, told reporters. She declined to say how many people enrolled in plans through the site.