Obamacare Officials Defend Online Exchanges

Oct 10, 2013 1:08pm

Obamacare officials are defending their health insurance exchanges today after an online poll suggested that few Americans are happy with the newly launched program.

As many as 20 million Americans have gone online to check out their new insurance options since Oct. 1, according to the Associated Press-GfK poll. But just 27 percent of those surveyed between Oct. 3 and 7 said the launch had gone “extremely,” “very” or “somewhat well.”

Forty percent of Americans polled said the launch had gone “not too well” or “not well at all,” according to the poll, and another 30 percent said they didn’t know enough to say.

“This poll was conducted six days into a six-month educational campaign to reach Americans about their options in the new Health Insurance Marketplace,” Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in a statement to ABCNews.com. “The overwhelming attention from millions of Americans checking out HealthCare.gov during the first few days is a good test of the interest of Americans in new affordable health options.”

Although the marketplaces were spared from federal furloughs, a surge in Web traffic was blamed for frustrating lags and error messages throughout the early days of the launch. Americans trying to scope out their options at <a href=”https://www.healthcare.gov/”target=”external”>HealthCare.gov</a> were instructed to “please wait” for the login page, which sometimes took several minutes to appear.

“We have a lot of visitors on our site right now and we’re working to make your experience here better,” the site message read. “Thanks for your patience!”

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius warned in late September that “glitches” would be inevitable, comparing the launch of the online exchanges to Apple’s latest software upgrade.

“No one is calling on Apple to not sell devices for a year, or to get out of the business because the whole thing is a failure,” Sebelius said, referring to a move by Republicans in the House to postpone the implementation of Obamacare by a year. “Everybody just assumes, ‘Well, there’s a problem, they’ll fix it, we’ll move on.’”

Of the 1,227 Americans surveyed for the online poll, 34 percent said they approved of the way President Obama was handling health care, while 47 percent disapproved. Eighty-three percent said they already had health insurance through their employer, a private plan, Medicare or Medicaid.

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