Surprise: Staffers Enroll Vacationing President in Obamacare, Bypassing Troubled Websites

Posted: Dec 23, 2013 6:45 PM

You may have heard that President Obama has finally "signed up for Obamacare," thus participating in the healthcare overhaul that colloquially bears his name. The White House concedes that the move was merely "symbolic," as presidents -- rightly -- have access to top-notch medical care 'round the clock. The whole idea here was for Obama to show solidarity with the millions of people whose families are being impacted by his signature law. Basically, he doesn't need the coverage, but he'll shell out some dollars to formally endorse his own product. Americans may have glanced at headlines like this and envisioned the president taking a timeout from his Hawaiian getaway to plop down at a secure computer and enroll online like everybody else. That mental image would be...mistaken:

Obama “was pleased to participate in a plan as a show of support for these marketplaces which are providing quality, affordable health care options to more than a million people,” the official added. But Obama did not directly sign up for insurance. Rather, his staff went in person to sign him up, an official told POLITICO. “Like some Americans, the complicated nature of the president’s case required an in-person sign-up,” the official said. “As you’d expect, the president’s personal information is not readily available in the variety of government databases uses to verify identities.”

So while Obama was enjoying some rest and relaxation with his family, White House staffers trudged over to the DC exchange and enrolled the president through back channels. The administration spokesperson quoted by Politico notes that obviously Obama wouldn't plug his personal data into the exchange website because he's the president. Indeed. He's also someone who knows exactly how vulnerable his data would be on these sites. His administration has been repeatedly warned about security issues with Obamacare's websites by outside watchdogs and internal experts, with at least one "high level" problem arising just last week. CMS is reporting a wave of web traffic today at as procrastinators nationwide attempt to sign up for coverage by the midnight deadline. Yes, the deadline was quietly extended by 24 hours (in order to obtain coverage by January 1), but that extension only applies to people who are already in a queue by the end of today. Those queues are necessary features because the site hasn't been able process more than 60,000 simultaneous users. White House officials are urging people not to wait until tomorrow because, according to WaPo, "the problem-plagued website may fail and leave uninsured users without coverage at the start of the 2014." The same Post piece says that roughly 900,000 people have now selected plans through -- a big improvement over October and November's paltry numbers. The administration's total 203/2014 enrollment goal is seven million, with half of the enrollment period already elapsed. Also, how many of those 900k have completed the enrollment process and paid their first month's premiums? That's still anyone's guess. Stories like this and this and this raise concerns. How many individuals will think they're already covered, only to discover that they're not, in the midst of a medical crisis? I'll leave you with CNN's latest polling numbers on Obamacare:

Only 35% of those questioned in the poll say they support the health care law, a 5-point drop in less than a month. Sixty-two percent say they oppose the law, up four points from November. Nearly all of the newfound opposition is coming from women. “Opposition to Obamacare rose six points among women, from 54% in November to 60% now, while opinion of the new law remained virtually unchanged among men,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “That’s bad news for an administration that is reaching out to moms across the country in an effort to make Obamacare a success.”

Ed Morrissey notes that on the question of costs, only seven percent (!) of respondents said they believe Obamacare will make their coverage more affordable, while nearly two-thirds expect to pay more. That's a catastrophic result for supporters of the "Affordable" Care Act.

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