News

Obama says enough Americans signed up to make healthcare work

Obama says enough Americans signed up to make healthcare work

HEALTHCARE HURDLES: The Obama administration is mounting an enrollment drive aimed at adults aged 18 to 34, whose participation in the marketplaces is vital to the success of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Photo: Associated Press

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama, aiming to allay concerns about the viability of his signature healthcare law, said on Friday enough people have enrolled to make its insurance marketplaces stable.

“Well, at this point, enough people are signing up that the Affordable Care Act is going to work,” Obama said in an interview with the medical website WebMD. “The insurance companies will continue to offer these plans.”

The Obama administration is mounting an enrollment drive aimed at adults aged 18 to 34, whose participation in the marketplaces is vital to the success of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In his latest bid to persuade people to enroll before a March 31 deadline for 2014 coverage, Obama found himself on the defensive, noting for example that some enrollees might have to change doctors.

“For the average person, many folks who don’t have health insurance initially, they’re going to have to make some choices. And they might end up having to switch doctors, in part because they’re saving money,” said Obama. That was a change from his assurance to Americans in 2009, when he was trying to get the law passed, that “if you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor.”

The WebMD interview was part of Obama’s recent push to reach people beyond traditional media. On Tuesday he made a direct appeal to the youthful audience of comedy website Funny or Die by appearing on its talk show parody, hosted by comedian Zach Galifianakis.

The Obama administration is targeting younger Americans because they are cheaper to insure and can compensate for older policy holders who have been able to obtain affordable insurance due to the law, known as Obamacare.

In his WebMD session, Obama did not answer directly when asked whether private insurance companies were “sabotaging” the healthcare law and whether the country would be “better off taking them out of national healthcare altogether.”

“Well, you know, this is an important debate,” the president said, adding that “there are some terrific insurance plans out there” but that some private insurers “don’t do a great job.”

“There are pluses and minuses with having a private insurance system,” Obama said.

Obama also acknowledged public skepticism in the healthcare law and its “inexcusable” and glitchy first month of online enrollment in October. Obama said the HealthCare.Gov website was “fixed fairly rapidly” and now “works pretty darn well.”

“The number of people who have signed up is already large enough that I’m confident the program will be stable,” Obama said. “But we look forward to seeing more and more people take advantage of it, as some of the politics of the thing get drained away, as people start feeling more confident about the website.”

His administration said on Tuesday that 4.2 million people have signed up for private health insurance under the law and that total enrollment could surpass a forecast of 6 million by the end of March.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Amanda Kwan)

Recent Headlines

in Local

Madigan: My COLA Rescinding Bill is Better than GOP’s

Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, talks from the speakers podium in the House chambers Tuesday, May 13, 2014, in Springfield Ill. The Illinois Legislature resumes work toward its end of May deadline.

The Speaker of the Illinois House says Tuesday's vote to roll back lawmakers' cost-of-living increases represents progress toward meeting the governor halfway.

in Local

U of I Holds Back Some Pay Raises

5-22-15 timothy kileen

University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen says the school will not dole out pay raises until the state budget situation is settled.

in Local

Illinois College Helping with Cuban Orchid Research

Illinois College

Jacksonville's Illinois College is playing a part in work that can now be done since the restoring of diplomatic ties with Cuba.

in Local

Mel Reynolds: I’m Not Guilty

FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2012 file photo, former Illinois Congressman Mel Reynolds announces that he's running for the 2nd District seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr., in Chicago. Reynolds has been indicted on federal tax evasion charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago said in a statement Friday June 26, 2015. The indictment says the 63-year-old Chicago Democrat failed to file income tax returns for four consecutive years, between 2009 and 2012. Each count of failing to file carries a maximum one-year prison sentence. Reynolds resigned his Illinois congressional seat in 1995 after being convicted of statutory rape for having sex with an underage campaign worker. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

Former Congressman Mel Reynolds says he will plead not guilty to federal tax evasion charges.

in Local

State Rep. Will Davis: One of a Kind

will davis

Defends voting for his own pay increase