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

4 hours ago in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: May 25

ianmckellen730762491401

A look back on some of Hollywood's most memorable headlines.

15 hours ago in Music

Lady Antebellum to host televised ACM Honors show

ladyantebellum839354649795

Grammy-winning country group Lady Antebellum will host the 10th annual ACM Honors show, which will be televised for the first time.

16 hours ago in Entertainment

Judge rules Bill Cosby must stand trial on sexual assault charges

15-overlay-11

A Pennsylvania judge ordered entertainer Bill Cosby to stand trial on sexual assault charges over allegations that he drugged and assaulted a woman in 2004.

17 hours ago in Entertainment

Video gaming returns to TV with new league

gamingREUTERS

Competitive video gaming returns to TV with the launch of a 10-week gaming league that will be broadcast on TBS.

18 hours ago in Entertainment

Changes are coming to Twitter

twitterREUTERS

User names and attachments - including photos and videos - will no longer count towards the length of a tweet, but the 140-character limit will stay.