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Under fire, ‘Obamacare’ going live — with glitches

  • Kevin Maass of Fairfax, Va., poses for a photograph in Fairfax, Va., Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. Maass has been uninsured for more than a year and is interested in options available for health insurance under President Barack Obama's new health care law. "Obamacare" has survived the Supreme Court, a battle for the White House and budget brinkmanship. New health insurance markets will open Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, around the country. The biggest expansion of society's safety net since Medicare will be in the hands of consumers.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

    Kevin Maass of Fairfax, Va., poses for a photograph in Fairfax, Va., Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. Maass has been uninsured for more than a year and is interested in options available for health insurance under President Barack Obama's new health care law. "Obamacare" has survived the Supreme Court, a battle for the White House and budget brinkmanship. New health insurance markets will open Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, around the country. The biggest expansion of society's safety net since Medicare will be in the hands of consumers.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • FILE - This Sept. 11, 2013 file photo shows the federal government form for applying for health coverage, in Washington. Getting covered through President Barack Obama’s health care law might feel like a combination of doing your taxes and making a big purchase that requires research. You’ll need accurate income information for your household, plus some understanding of how health insurance works, so you can get the financial assistance you qualify for and pick a health plan that’s right for your needs. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

    FILE - This Sept. 11, 2013 file photo shows the federal government form for applying for health coverage, in Washington. Getting covered through President Barack Obama’s health care law might feel like a combination of doing your taxes and making a big purchase that requires research. You’ll need accurate income information for your household, plus some understanding of how health insurance works, so you can get the financial assistance you qualify for and pick a health plan that’s right for your needs. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

  • Kevin Maass of Fairfax, Va., poses for a photograph in Fairfax, Va., Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. Maass has been uninsured for more than a year and is interested in options available for health insurance under President Barack Obama's new health care law. "Obamacare" has survived the Supreme Court, a battle for the White House and budget brinkmanship. New health insurance markets will open Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, around the country. The biggest expansion of society's safety net since Medicare will be in the hands of consumers.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

    Kevin Maass of Fairfax, Va., poses for a photograph in Fairfax, Va., Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. Maass has been uninsured for more than a year and is interested in options available for health insurance under President Barack Obama's new health care law. "Obamacare" has survived the Supreme Court, a battle for the White House and budget brinkmanship. New health insurance markets will open Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, around the country. The biggest expansion of society's safety net since Medicare will be in the hands of consumers.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • The Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the government teeters on the brink of a partial shutdown at midnight unless Congress can reach an agreement on funding. Hours before a threatened government shutdown, the Senate has the next move Monday on must-do budget legislation that has fueled a bitter congressional dispute over President Barack Obama's signature health care law.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    The Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the government teeters on the brink of a partial shutdown at midnight unless Congress can reach an agreement on funding. Hours before a threatened government shutdown, the Senate has the next move Monday on must-do budget legislation that has fueled a bitter congressional dispute over President Barack Obama's signature health care law. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Kevin Maass of Fairfax, Va., poses for a photograph in Fairfax, Va., Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. Maass has been uninsured for more than a year and is interested in options available for health insurance under President Barack Obama's new health care law. "Obamacare" has survived the Supreme Court, a battle for the White House and budget brinkmanship. New health insurance markets will open Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, around the country. The biggest expansion of society's safety net since Medicare will be in the hands of consumers.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
  • FILE - This Sept. 11, 2013 file photo shows the federal government form for applying for health coverage, in Washington. Getting covered through President Barack Obama’s health care law might feel like a combination of doing your taxes and making a big purchase that requires research. You’ll need accurate income information for your household, plus some understanding of how health insurance works, so you can get the financial assistance you qualify for and pick a health plan that’s right for your needs. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)
  • Kevin Maass of Fairfax, Va., poses for a photograph in Fairfax, Va., Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. Maass has been uninsured for more than a year and is interested in options available for health insurance under President Barack Obama's new health care law. "Obamacare" has survived the Supreme Court, a battle for the White House and budget brinkmanship. New health insurance markets will open Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, around the country. The biggest expansion of society's safety net since Medicare will be in the hands of consumers.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
  • The Capitol in Washington, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the government teeters on the brink of a partial shutdown at midnight unless Congress can reach an agreement on funding. Hours before a threatened government shutdown, the Senate has the next move Monday on must-do budget legislation that has fueled a bitter congressional dispute over President Barack Obama's signature health care law.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Contentious from its conception, President Obama’s health care law has survived the Supreme Court, a battle for the White House and rounds of budget brinkmanship. Now comes the ultimate test: the verdict of the American people.

A government shutdown could dampen the rollout today as insurance markets open across the country. But it won’t stop the main components of “Obamacare” from going live as scheduled, glitches and all. The biggest expansion of society’s safety net since Medicare will be in the hands of consumers, and most of their concerns don’t revolve around ideology and policy details.

People want to know if they can afford the premiums, if the coverage will be solid, where the bureaucratic pitfalls are and if new federal and state websites will really demystify shopping for health insurance. Full answers may take months.

Expect the rollout to get off to a slow start, with some bumps.

People who don’t have access to job-based health insurance can start shopping right away for subsidized private policies. Or they can wait to sign up as late as Dec. 15 and still get coverage by Jan. 1. Many will probably want to see how it goes for the first wave of applicants before they jump in.

Glitches are likely to pop up in the new online insurance markets. Over the weekend, several states were still struggling to get plan information to display accurately on their websites.

Earlier, the federal government announced delays for small business and Spanish-language signups. A protracted government shutdown could slow needed technology fixes.

Consumers also could run into problems getting their right subsidy amounts. People with complicated tax returns and extended families living under the same roof could find they need personal assistance to work out the issues. Referrals to state Medicaid programs might go smoothly in some states, not so well in others.

“As this unveils, it is going to be very clear that everything can’t be done on a computer,” Christine Ferguson, director of Rhode Island’s marketplace, said in an interview before the launch. “But by Day 60 to 120, and the year after that, it’s going to get a lot more user-friendly and effective.”

Eventually, at least half the nation’s nearly 50 million uninsured people are expected to get coverage through the Affordable Care Act, either through subsidized private plans sold in the new markets or an expanded version of Medicaid in states accepting it for low-income adults. Immigrants in the country illegally will be the largest group remaining uninsured.

A partial government shutdown, driven by Republican opponents of increasing the federal role in health care, will not stop what they call “Obamacare.” Core provisions and benefits are shielded from annual budget battles. If other government services are shut down, the health care overhaul can largely keep going – much like Social Security and Medicare.

“Shutdown or no shutdown, we’re ready to go,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said yesterday. Federally operated markets in 36 states open at 8 a.m. The remaining states are running their own markets.

Polls show the country remains divided over the law, with opponents outnumbering supporters.

Nonetheless, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released over the weekend found 56 percent of Americans disapprove of cutting off funding to expand coverage for the uninsured, as congressional Republicans are pressing to do.

The poll also found people in a fog about what the law means for them. Nearly three-fourths of the uninsured were unaware of the new insurance markets opening to serve them.

In states not expanding Medicaid, millions of uninsured people below the federal poverty level will likely be shut out of coverage. That’s the case in Texas and Florida – both of which have large uninsured populations – and in many, but not all, Republican-led states.

It’s because under the law, people below the poverty line – an individual making $11,490, a family of four $23,550 – can only get the new coverage through expanded Medicaid. And the Supreme Court gave states the right to opt out.

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Legacy Comments2

Obama compared ObamaKare to the iphone. When the iphone has a glitch it gets fixed within a short period of time when ObamaKare has a glitch it doesn't get fixed Obama just unilaterally changes the law which is illegal but he can do it because he thinks he is a dictator. It is funny when Republicans want to change ObamaKare the democrats call it established law and the democrats say they can't do it, but when Obama changes the law they say go right ahead Mr. Dictator.

Yippeeee....nobody has to prove they qualify for FREE money and congress and business have waivers....ya just got to love how democrats rule

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