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 Sports

Soccer rocked as top FIFA officials arrested in U.S. corruption probe

Updated
fifaarrests

Seven of the most powerful figures in soccer face extradition to the U.S. after their arrest in Switzerland, where authorities also announced a criminal investigation into the awarding of the next two World Cups.

in National

Storm death toll rises as Houston remains underwater

Updated
flood

Torrential rains and flooding have turned streets into rivers, killing more than a dozen people and destroying hundreds of homes.

in National

Ford recalls nearly a half-million vehicles

ford

Ford has recalled several models, including the Mustang and Taurus, for a power steering problem.

in Sports

BEST OF: Cavs sweep Hawks to head to NBA Finals

13-overlay7

Watch Cleveland win the Eastern Conference Championship through the lens of a high-def slow-motion camera.

in Sports

NHL Preview: Ducks battle Blackhawks in Game 6

17-overlay7

Here's a look at Game 6 in the Western Conference Finals.