On October 1, 2013, the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) long-awaited Health Insurance Marketplace was launched at www.healthcare.gov. As has been widely reported, many consumers experienced technical problems using the federal site to enroll in qualified health plans, which the Administration has largely chalked up to greater-than-expected demand and site capacity issues that are being addressed on an ongoing basis. On the other hand, critics including Republican lawmakers have argued that the Marketplace site’s glitches indicate the deeper problems with the enrollment system that should have been anticipated (and which they contend lend support to continued efforts to delay or repeal the ACA). The White House has confirmed that individuals are signing up through federal exchanges, but the Administration is not releasing enrollment statistics at this time, choosing instead to release enrollment data on a regular monthly basis starting in November. The Administration also has stressed that consumers have until December 15, 2013 to apply for coverage that starts January 1, 2014, and enrollment in the Marketplace is open until March 31, 2014. In a related development, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that while small businesses may view available plans being offered through the federally-facilitated Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP) Marketplace as of October 1, 2013, all functions (including enrollment) will not be available until November. Enrollment experiences at state Marketplaces reportedly vary, with some states such as California and New York announcing success in enrolling thousands of consumers, while other states reportedly are encountering technical problems that have hindered enrollment.
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