President Obama in a White House Rose Garden speech said he’s frustrated by the failures of the Health.gov website. But he encouraged Americans to continue to apply and pointed out you can also apply at websites run by 16 states and by phone 1-800-318-2596. 1-800-318-2596.
Here’s what the President said:
“Of course, you’ve probably heard that HealthCare.gov –- the new website where people can apply for health insurance, and browse and buy affordable plans in most states –- hasn’t worked as smoothly as it was supposed to work. And the number of people who have visited the site has been overwhelming, which has aggravated some of these underlying problems.
Despite all that, thousands of people are signing up and saving money as we speak. Many Americans with a preexisting condition, like Janice, are discovering that they can finally get health insurance like everybody else.
So today, I want to speak to every American who’s looking to get affordable health insurance. I want you to know what’s available to you and why it may be a good deal for you. And for those who’ve had some problems with the website, I want to tell you what we’re doing to make it work better and how you can sign up to get covered in other ways.
But before I do that, let me remind everybody that the Affordable Care Act is not just a website. It’s much more. For the vast majority of Americans — for 85 percent of Americans who already have health insurance through your employer or Medicare or Medicaid -– you don’t need to sign up for coverage through a website at all. You’ve already got coverage. What the Affordable Care Act does for you is to provide you with new benefits and protections that have been in place for some time. You may not know it, but you’re already benefiting from these provisions in the law.
For example, because of the Affordable Care Act, young people like Jasmine Jennings, and Jessica Ugalde, and Ezra Salop, all of whom are here today, they’ve been able to stay on their parents’ plans until they’re 26. Millions of other young people are currently benefiting from that part of the law. (Applause.) Another part of the Affordable Care Act is providing seniors with deeper discounts on their prescription medicine. Billions of dollars have been saved by seniors already. That’s part of the law. It’s already in place. It’s happening right now.
Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, preventive care like mammograms and birth control are free through your employers. That’s part of this law. (Applause.) So there are a wide range of consumer protections and benefits that you already have if you’ve got health insurance. You may not have noticed them, but you’ve got them, and they’re not going anywhere. And they’re not dependent on a website.
Here’s another thing that the Affordable Care Act does. In states where governors and legislatures have wisely allowed it, the Affordable Care Act provides the opportunity for many Americans to get covered under Medicaid for the first time. So in Oregon, for example, that’s helped cut the number of uninsured people by 10 percent just in the last three weeks. Think about that. That’s 56,000 more Americans who now have health care. (Applause.) That doesn’t depend on a website.
Now, if you’re one of the 15 percent of Americans who don’t have health insurance — either because you can’t afford it or because your employer doesn’t offer it, or because you’re a small businessperson and you have to go out on the individual market and buy it on your own and it’s just too expensive — October 1st was an important date. That’s when we opened the new marketplaces where people without health insurance, or who can’t afford health insurance, or who aren’t part of a group plan, can finally start getting affordable coverage.
And the idea is simple. By enrolling in what we’re calling these marketplaces, you become part of a big group plan — as if you were working for a big employer — a statewide group plan that spreads risk between sick people and healthy people, between young and old, and then bargains on your behalf for the best deal on health care. What we’ve done is essentially create a competition where there wasn’t competition before. We created these big group plans, and now insurers are really interested in getting your business. And so insurers have created new health care plans with more choices to be made available through these marketplaces.
And as a result of this choice and this competition, prices have come down. When you add the new tax credits that many people are eligible for through the law, then the prices come down even further. So one study shows that through new options created by the Affordable Care Act, nearly 6 in 10 uninsured Americans will find that they can get covered for less than $100 a month. Think about that. (Applause.)
Through the marketplaces, you can get health insurance for what may be the equivalent of your cell phone bill or your cable bill, and that’s a good deal.
So the fact is the product of the Affordable Care Act for people without health insurance is quality health insurance that’s affordable. And that product is working. It’s really good. And it turns out there’s a massive demand for it. So far, the national website, HealthCare.gov, has been visited nearly 20 million times. Twenty million times. (Applause.) And there’s great demand at the state level as well, because there are a bunch of states that are running their own marketplaces.
We know that nearly one-third of the people applying in Connecticut and Maryland, for example, are under 35 years old. They understand that they can get a good deal at low costs, have the security of health care, and this is not just for old folks like me — that everybody needs good quality health insurance. And all told, more than half a million consumers across the country have successfully submitted applications through federal and state marketplaces. And many of those applications aren’t just for individuals, it’s for their entire families. So even more people are already looking to potentially take advantage of the high quality, affordable insurance that is provided through the Affordable Care Act.
So let me just recap here. The product is good. The health insurance that’s being provided is good. It’s high quality and it’s affordable. People can save money, significant money, by getting insurance that’s being provided through these marketplaces. And we know that the demand is there. People are rushing to see what’s available. And those who have already had a chance to enroll are thrilled with the result. Every day, people who were stuck with sky-high premiums because of preexisting conditions are getting affordable insurance for the first time, or finding, like Janice did, that they’re saving a lot of money. Every day, women are finally buying coverage that doesn’t charge them higher premiums than men for the same care. (Applause.) Every day, people are discovering that new health insurance plans have to cover maternity care, mental health care, free preventive care.”