Obamacare Websites Still Not Fixed, Poll Finds
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The Fiscal Times
January 3, 2014

The majority of Americans say they are still having problems with the Obamacare websites, despite the White House’s claims that they are “running smoothly for the vast majority of users.” 

A Gallup poll released this week shows 59 percent of uninsured Americans say they have had a negative experience with both the state and federal online exchanges in December. Meanwhile, some 39 percent reported a positive experience—up 6 percent from November. 

Related: New Year, New Test for Obamacare 

The poll found that about 26 percent of Americans without insurance had visited an exchange in December, up from just 20 percent a month earlier. However, that number could likely be skewed since the poll was conducted throughout December and the exchanges experienced a surge of enrollments ahead of the Dec 24 deadline to sign up for coverage taking effect on January 1. 

So far, about 2.1 million people have signed up for health insurance through Obamacare, far from the Obama administration’s goal of enrolling 7 million people by the end of the open enrollment period on March 31. According to the White House, about half of those enrollments came from the federal website, HealthCare.gov that services 36 states, the rest have come from state exchanges. There are no data yet on how many of those have actually paid for premiums.

The online federal exchange has experienced far more problems that most of the state-run websites. Indeed, the first day HealthCare.gov went live, it was so riddled with technical glitches that only six people were able to sign up.  

Since then, the website has undergone a major repair effort and the White House claims it is back up and running for the “vast majority of users.” 

Still, problems on the back end of the website persist and have caused a great deal of concern for the Obama administration, which has already pushed back several deadlines in order to accommodate consumers and insurance companies who were left to deal with the website’s problems. 

Related: Obamacare Fixes Hide a Big Mess on the Back End

Although administration officials say the majority of the technical issues have been resolved, they have instructed consumers who have signed up for insurance to verify their coverage directly with those companies just in case.

“We don’t want anybody to have problems, but we know some people will,” Phil Schiliro said on MSNBC on Tuesday. The main concern the White House has is that the website may not have accurately transferred consumers data to insurance companies, meaning that some people who think they have successfully signed up for coverage through the exchanges may not actually have insurance.

Insurers have expressed similar concerns over the potential gaps in coverage.

"There could be a gap, which is regrettable, but at this point unavoidable,” Susan Millerick, an Aetna spokeswoman told CNN

The White House is advising anyone who has problems to call their insurance providers or one of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ call centers so they can determine whether or not they were properly enrolled. 

“If they have a bigger problem, then we will assign a case worker to it, and we’ll try to get a resolution as quickly as possible,” Schiliro said.

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Washington Correspondent Brianna Ehley, based in D.C., covers Congress, government agencies and spending issues, health care, and tax and economic policy for The Fiscal Times.