Obamacare website glitches: Foreshadowing future issues?

Dan Gorenstein Oct 1, 2013

It’s a big day for the Affordable Care Act — and also a glitch-filled day.

Today was the first time Americans could sign up for health insurance via federal and state-run exchanges. But a host of problems, from website hiccups to unanswered telephone help lines, meant some people couldn’t actually sign up.

The glitches weren’t necessarily a surprise — even the president warned there could very well be technical difficulties on the first day. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported they had 2.8 million visits to healthcare.gov on opening day.

For some, the technical difficulties meant the details of the health care plans are still a mystery.

“We still don’t know a lot about what the coverage will look like, so what the deductibles and co-pays for prescription drugs will be,” says Larry Levitt from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But computer glitches aren’t the only reason confusion around Obamacare remains.

“How’s it really going to help? What’s it going to take? How much coverage can it give you?” asks Gwen Howell in Camden, N.J. She doesn’t have insurance and wonders, “Is it really gonna give you coverage?”

There’s been so much political noise around Obamacare, it’s hard for regular people to understand what’s going on. That should change going forward as word of mouth and government-led education initiatives spread. 

People like Gwen Howell will start to make their way to the exchanges – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

But problems with the exchanges are bad advertising. At the end of the day, continued glitches could be a real problem in getting people signed up.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.