Obama Encourages Americans to Get Health Coverage
By Bara Vaida
Reviewed by Lisa Zamosky
Sept. 26, 2013 (Largo, Md.) -- As part of an aggressive campaign to explain his signature health care law to Americans, President Barack Obama urged millions of Americans to sign up for the new health insurance Marketplaces that will open Oct. 1.
The campaign-style speech, in front of a supportive crowd of college students, came as news emerged that another part of the law would be delayed. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday it will be delaying online enrollment in the Marketplaces for small businesses in some states; they will be able to enroll with a paper application.
Obama did not mention the delay during his speech, although he acknowledged that glitches would happen.
"Somewhere around the country, there will be a computer glitch and the web site won't work the way it's supposed to, and I guarantee that there will be a camera ready to document it," Obama said. "But most of the stories that Obamacare won't work just aren't based on facts."
With the opening of the Marketplaces just days away, about half of Americans say they don't know enough information about the law and half also say they disapprove of it.
The Obama administration is also facing stiff opposition from congressional Republicans, who have been using the budget and debt-ceiling debate in Congress as a way to eliminate funding for the law.
The insurance Marketplaces are the key part of the Affordable Care Act, the law aimed at giving more than 41 million uninsured Americans access to reasonably priced health insurance. Small businesses and individuals who currently buy their own insurance will also be able to seek coverage in the Marketplaces.
A report released this week shows that average premiums for insurance will be lower than had been projected in the 36 states where the federal government will be running Marketplaces.
The average price for a "silver plan," which will cover 70% of an average person's medical costs, will be $328 a month for individuals. The numbers do not include tax credits, which may bring the costs lower. In Maryland, Obama said that a 25-year-old making $25,000 will pay as little as $80 a month for health insurance.
"You can probably get insurance for less than the cost of a cell phone bill," Obama told the supportive crowd of 1,800, who were packed into an athletic center on the campus of Prince George's Community College, 15 miles east of Washington, D.C.
He said that buying insurance would be like "shopping for a ticket on Kayak" or "shopping for a TV on Amazon."
Many consumers who shop in a Marketplace will be eligible for federal tax credits to help offset the cost of the monthly premium. The administration said that 56% of the roughly 41 million uninsured people eligible for the Marketplaces could pay monthly premiums of $100 or less. Enrollment for insurance in 2014 begins Oct. 1 and will last until March 31, 2014.
"Go to healthcare.gov. You can look and they'll tell you where to go," the president said. "You don't have to take my word for it. Go see for yourself what the prices are. See for yourself what the choices are. Then make up your own mind. That is all I'm asking."
SOURCES: Politico: "Obamacare Faces New Delay." The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation: "Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: August 2013." USA Today: "Health Care Law Faces Difficult Future." HHS: "ASPE Issue Brief." CBS News: "Amid Delays, Obama Reassures Americans About Health Law." Wall Street Journal: "Key Functions of D.C. Health Exchange Delayed."