HealthCare.gov managed heavy traffic Tuesday as Americans in 36 states rushed to meet the new enrollment deadline for health plans effective Jan.1: There were 2 million website visits, the call center fielded more than 250,000 inquiries and the queuing system handled approximately 129,000 emails, government spokeswoman Julie Bataille told Forbes.
But while extending the sign-up deadline another day helped consumers, the extension caused reform-related headaches for payers. "Insurers would like to have two to three weeks to process applications," consultant Robert Laszewski told the Associated Press. "Now they're going to have a week, less one more day."
Open enrollment ends in March for coverage effective after February. By then, the Obama Administration expects to see 7 million newly-insured customers, Forbes noted. Among them is the president himself; though he doesn't need it and won't use it. President Barack Obama last weekend joined with other Americans who purchased a bronze-level plan through the D.C. exchange, The Washington Post reported. The White House called this a "symbolic" gesture of solidarity with insurance buyers and a show of support for the marketplaces, the Post noted.
Republican leaders had repeatedly urged Obama to sign up and share in the troubles of fellow citizens stymied by the online enrollment process, the Post reported. The GOP introduced legislation amending the Affordable Care Act to require federal officials to buy exchange coverage, which Obama signed Thursday.
Opposite side-of-the-aisle reaction to Obama's enrollment was swift and mixed: U.S. representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a longtime opponent of the Affordable Care Act, was pleased. "I'm not going to take a cheap shot at him [Obama] for signing up," Chaffetz told the Post. "It really wasn't necessary, but if he didn't do it, we would all bark at him." But a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told the Post that "Americans are looking for more than symbolic gestures. This law is a train wreck, and no one should be forced to take part in it."