Midnight Deadline Looms for Obamacare Enrollment

Website goes down as a surge of people wait to sign up for health care.
3:00 | 03/31/14

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Transcript for Midnight Deadline Looms for Obamacare Enrollment
This is a special room. Again that's a New York with a CBC news digital special report time is running out for uninsured Americans as the open enrollment period. For the Affordable Care Act known. More often as obamacare. Closes tonight at midnight but like so much else with the laws troubled roll out there has been an eleventh hour change. If your -- -- -- Washington. With the details Karen. Good afternoon Dan when health officials are expecting a surge in traffic today -- White House that as Americans try in at least. Get started signing up for health care before that midnight deadline and and if you are successful -- he would -- Get into the line even if you don't go through the full process coverage will begin on May first. The. Kept coming is here Americans have until midnight tonight sign up for health insurance or face a financial penalty. Administration officials fanned out across the country to make one final -- Including Vice President Biden today on the Rachael -- show Q&A Q there's still time today. White House officials are expecting a last minute surge today and they said health care dot gov would be able to handle it. But this morning this -- message greeted people trying to get on the site. Administration officials said that was due to scheduled maintenance but the only problem countdown clock the numbers were off. This deadline is and major moment the bubonic industries a political milestone for a key issue heading into November's mid term elections. Last week the White House announced that through march 27 more than six million Americans signed up for health care through federal and state marketplaces. Shorted the administration's goal of seven million. But it can't say how many of those who signed up were previously uninsured. Or how many actually completed the process and paid their premiums. It's also unclear how many are healthy. Into the system with preexisting medical issues. May -- the deadline but for those who are in line today by phone online or in person. All the grace period to finish their enrollment Republicans -- their hands -- what they said was yet another delay. -- is a joke. If you miss the deadline but sign up for coverage later there will still be a panel -- but it will be pro rated said and the administration will continue. To push Americans to sign up for coverage days. So it deadline butts with a bit of a caveat there ABC's contreras of Washington Karen thank you so much that. So want to bring in now our senior national correspondent Jim Ottawa also Washington DC Jim -- the actual numbers. That report of enrollees stack up against what the White House initially said he. It expected an obviously what do want it. Well you know it it. Especially since there was such a problem with the rollout they've done pretty well and in fact there. There are lot of smiling faces of the White House right now. An LA times report came out this morning which showed that at least nine and a half million people who were previously uninsured. Now have coverage because of obamacare. Now that's a pretty big number -- it's a pretty good number that includes a lot of things that includes people who signed up for Medicaid coverage which has been expanded. It's six million people have signed up for health coverage. And and the other thing that they found according the Rand report. Two is that. As many that there are many more have been many more you know -- more people who were uninsured before. Who now. Are insured so that's. You know that that's pretty good news for the White House in -- we hear all these little things like. This morning. An error message coming -- early early in the morning. And and -- make it's going on the web site. We hear things about as as Karen just reported that that the time clock on the well on the web -- was off. You know. The bottom line is that really matter does that really is that we're -- we're talking about here what we're really talking about. Is is a number of uninsured people in this country and right now the White House is proud to point out at nine and -- half million people. Who were uninsured. Now have insurance a big component of the success of this plan is by a lot of young people signing up for this plan to cover those that may have. -- more costly medical expenses or or 222 sort of spread -- that the burden across a greater spectrum. Do we have any idea what we're gonna get those kinds of numbers of -- actual breakdown demographics health -- when that might roll out because that would obviously be. And even stronger bulletin the White House will be able to push. Well I think it's pretty. There that younger people are signing up at the last minute. And they haven't been during the last month the White House has been reaching out to younger people in very. Unusual or unorthodox ways. To those of us who are not in that demographic category. Including a a rap song. That's -- in California as one of the advertisements that talks about the president. In in in rap slang. But. And and it appears as though those things are working. As froze when we'll have the numbers I think when the insurance companies at the end of the day had a title total up. How many people have signed up and paid that's -- we'll know. How many young people have signed up the other thing that we'll tell us is how much so rates will go up or down the problem -- And of course with the young people. -- or the advantage of having young people sign up in great numbers. Is that it will lower. The of the total cost for -- one because. Those folks take less. Coverages and and and cost us less money to take care of so you're hoping and a lot of them show up in that the rates will will stay low or go lower -- and not go higher and that's really what. What will tell us an -- and that's the insurance companies themselves looking at their tables and everything else and that will come for some time -- What about the politics of this because if the numbers are. What we're being told what they're -- report right now if people start -- -- today to finish the process if these folks -- -- gets signed up get covered. What does it mean then for Republicans ambitions of any kind of aura of a repeal for this but it was -- -- -- on this week. Bill Kristol a conservative Republican. Of note said that. Just attacking Obama care. Is not gonna work for the Republicans anymore that they have to have. Some kind of back -- plan so if you eliminate obamacare. What are you gonna do with those forty million people who -- orange and -- underinsured or or not insured. And until now there really hasn't been much from the Republican Party about that and even crystal admitting. The that would these new numbers. -- numbers coming out showing that they're gonna reach will be very close to reaching that seven million mark. When the date when everything's counted at the end of the day because they were six million -- -- I mean on. April on March 27. Just a few days ago. So they -- six million men and and had huge numbers of people. Going to the website it's likely that they're gonna reach the seven million target. By the end of the day nobody saying that officially but if you look at the numbers and you look at the back up so what's going on people are lining up today. -- -- -- centers around the country. The -- specific -- in San Antonio battle line of people waiting to get it so. There's a lot of folks are -- who are signing up and it's becoming less and less of an issue for the Republicans as far as the sign it was -- you're not hearing the numbers anymore. -- many of them believe still. That obamacare remains their top issue for the mid term elections. But I think we're gonna see little bit less of that in at least two you'll see. That the Democrats have a pretty good answer for it. And they and they -- Not -- is not be shying away from Obama cares much -- that war -- for -- your your put -- -- the problems that the US I was having this morning about the warning message that came up at the site was under -- And then the difference instead of listing down the number of days left before the deadline it was listed as. Listed -- days as opposed to hours those two issues aside -- any reason to believe that it is slowing the enrollment rush today. Not today I mean I think that. The in -- the that the web site. For all intents and purposes been fixed every website goes down for maintenance it this this may have been. But the fact that it was that it was down a little longer than it should have been. Not great. But you know -- the -- the key thing and in all of this is that all you have to do. Is get your name in there and start the process today. And because of the extension that they went White House allowed the administration allowed -- closure. Have started the process you couldn't finish it later. And so today's -- if you get blocked out as long as you get your name -- also there's ways to call in. And that kind of thing -- well today so I don't you know -- it looks as though. Though the web site problems. That were just terrible at the beginning. Have been fix for the most part we've heard many complaints about it lately and in fact would have. -- six million people registering as the 27 of this month shows -- that website has in fact been working pretty well. There and the president himself even have a little bit of fun and -- understand the fact that that those initial problems. Worst sort of the -- for. Late night comedians and he even himself going on into it says Zach Galifianakis. That conversation between two -- and in putting that out but clearly the White House. Obviously very pleased with the numbers that they've been saying. Yet the tone is changed. Quite a bit the White House -- at the beginning -- mean they were embarrassed they were upset you know. About the website roll -- there's no doubt about it the president came out and personally apologized and said he was. Embarrassed because he's supposed to be the guy understands. You know the new generation and how. And in web sites and that kind of thing and and it flopped. So yes there was a terrible. Atmosphere at the White House about the web site. But now all. -- that the mood has changed. Amazingly I mean they -- totally. Turned around there very. They're pushing out these new numbers letting people know -- getting emails all day long from. Represented as of the progressive movement. Is pointing to this LA times article. Which shows that so many people nearly ten million people who didn't have insurance before. Now have insurance and and you know why that's a big deal is that there is a big deal not just of those ten million people uninsured people. In this country cost the rest of us lots of money. They Costa because they go to the emergency room. More than more than folks who do have insurance in the emergency room then put tax that onto our charges. Because they have to pay for it somehow -- -- and we pay for so it's very important to get the uninsured taken care of and -- right now ten million. New people are insured. Big day for the White House -- ABC's Jim Ottawa in Washington DC Jim thank you for that appreciate it. And of course you can keep up this a big day for Obama care and Affordable Care Act in real time downloading the ABC news -- starring the -- for exclusive updates on ago. For non -- Cutler New York. With his ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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