ObamaCare Coverage Makes Quiet Debut

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid reports smooth first day

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 2, 2014 7:55 AM CST

(Newser) – After years of debate, legal proceedings, and technical glitches, health insurance purchased under ObamaCare began actually covering people yesterday, in what Kathleen Sebelius touted as an "exciting new day for health care." But on the ground health care providers weren't exactly inundated with new customers, in part, perhaps because of the holiday. "It's dead," one pharmacist tells the New York Times. "No one has come in today with a new insurance card or wanting us to look up their benefits under ObamaCare."

Other stories from launch day:

  • One major Seattle hospital said it was bracing for an influx of patients, but hadn't seen many. "We might at some point," a spokesperson said, "but it depends on if those patients chose plans that include us." It was excluded from the two biggest plans on the state's exchange.
  • On the bright side, things did go smoothly—the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid had 10,000 agents on call to field questions or enrollment problems, but told Reuters that no hiccups were recorded.
  • There are plenty of anecdotal success stories, too. The Times talked to a breast cancer survivor who was already using her new policy to get a stress test. "This is a very happy day," she said.
  • NBC News likewise has the stories of three families who got new or greatly improved coverage through the exchanges, though it doesn't mention if they've used them yet.
  • President Obama's Organizing for Action PAC has launched a website to broadcast such glowing testimonials, the Washington Post reports.
  • But one Detroit provider said a patient had gotten sticker shock when discovering that the co-pay on a drug would be $84—far more than they were used to. They bought a cheaper alternative.
  • And some providers still expect administrative headaches to crop up, noting that, due to oft-extended deadlines, many people will lack insurance cards. "It will be difficult to actually verify coverage," said the head of one Ohio primary care center. "That's my concern."

Howard Kraft looks over healthcare information in his home in Lincolnton, NC, Dec. 30, 2013. Kraft has a painful spinal problem, and is only able to get coverage because of the law.
Howard Kraft looks over healthcare information in his home in Lincolnton, NC, Dec. 30, 2013. Kraft has a painful spinal problem, and is only able to get coverage because of the law.   (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
Venessa Salazar helps her mother, Lisa Salazar, use a computer at a public library to navigate the Affordable Health Care Act website, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, in San Antonio.
Venessa Salazar helps her mother, Lisa Salazar, use a computer at a public library to navigate the Affordable Health Care Act website, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, in San Antonio.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
This Nov. 29, 2013 file photo shows part of the HealthCare.gov website on Nov. 29, 2013.
This Nov. 29, 2013 file photo shows part of the HealthCare.gov website on Nov. 29, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File)
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