The problematic HealthCare.gov website that’s supposed to make purchasing health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, easy forced President Barack Obama, its main advocate, to step forward on Monday and adopt the role of salesman.
Obama admitted the product isn’t working properly but promised customers that his employees are working round the clock to make it better.
The Department of Health and Human Services launched the exchanges on Oct. 1 only to have a host of technical glitches frustrate millions of Americans looking for cheaper coverage. Though there have been some successes such as nearly 20 million unique visitors to HealthCare.gov since and almost half a million applications submitted, the fact that millions of others across the nation are having trouble launching the site and creating accounts is proving to be a ripe battleground for Republicans.
Take for instance Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who favors repealing the law. That the president or anyone in his administration is able to clearly tell why there are so many hiccups with the website was all that the junior senator needed to start drafting a bill that would require a six-month delay of the health care law’s individual mandate.
“Next year, everyone will be required to purchase health insurance,” Rubio told “Fox and Friends.” “If you don’t, you’re going to owe the IRS money. That’s called the individual mandate. One of the ways that that becomes available, according to this brilliant idea called Obamacare, is to make these exchanges available online. But they’re not working. So how are you going to go after people next year using the IRS to punish them if the thing you’re forcing them to buy isn’t available for them to buy because the website’s not working? ... So the law I’m going to introduce basically delays that requirement until the General Accounting Office has certified that it’s been up and running and effectively working for six months consecutive.”
Rubio said the delay is the “prudent approach given the problems that it’s facing by the White House’s own admission.”
In the face of all this though, the president is pushing back against the law’s detractors and flexing his salesman muscles the best way he knows how -- through the power of convincing.
Here are five reasons Obama gave in his speech on Monday about why you should wait for the improved HealthCare.gov:
There’s A High Demand
“The product is good. The health insurance that’s being provided is good. It’s high quality and it’s affordable. People can save money, significant money, by getting insurance that’s being provided through these marketplaces. And we know that the demand is there. People are rushing to see what’s available. And those who have already had a chance to enroll are thrilled with the result.”
Stick It Out Like Janice Baker So You Can Save
Baker is the first person in Delaware to sign up through the market place and is now saving $150 per month. She is an example of the law doing what the president said it would -- be affordable and bring about some savings.
“And it’s true, it took [Janice] a few tries, but it was worth it after being turned down for insurance three times due to minor preexisting conditions. So now she’ll be covered, she’ll save 150 bucks a month, and she won’t have to worry that one illness or accident will cost her her business that she’s worked so hard to build.”
He’s Frustrated You’re Frustrated
“The website that’s supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is not working the way it should for everybody. And there’s no sugarcoating it. The website has been too slow, people have been getting stuck during the application process. And I think it’s fair to say that nobody is more frustrated by that than I am -- 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, and these problems are getting fixed.”
Presidential Anger Guarantees It Will Be Fixed
“So here’s the bottom line. The product, the health insurance is good. The prices are good. It is a good deal. People don’t just want it; they’re showing up to buy it. Nobody is madder than me about the fact that the website isn’t working as well as it should, which means it’s going to get fixed. And in the meantime, you can bypass the website and apply by phone or in person. So don’t let problems with the website deter you from signing up, or signing your family up, or showing your friends how to sign up, because it is worth it.”
Republicans Only Health-Care Solution Is Opposition
“I recognize that the Republican Party has made blocking the Affordable Care Act its signature policy idea. Sometimes it seems to be the one thing that unifies the party these days. In fact, they were willing to shut down the government and potentially harm the global economy to try to get it repealed. And I’m sure that given the problems with the website so far, they’re going to be looking to go after it even harder. And let's admit it -- with the website not working as well as it needs to work, that makes a lot of supporters nervous because they know how it’s been subject to so much attack, the Affordable Care Act generally. But I just want to remind everybody, we did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a website. That’s not what this was about. We waged this battle to make sure that millions of Americans in the wealthiest nation on Earth finally have the same chance to get the same security of affordable quality health care as anybody else. That’s what this is about. And the Affordable Care Act has done that.”
So are you sold? Let us know in the comment box if the president managed to convince you to wait for the improved HealthCare.gov website.
Laura is a U.S. politics reporter for the International Business Times. She was always fascinated by the BBC World News each morning on the radio in Jamaica. That, and a love...