10 Obamacare Facts You Need to Know After One Month

Today officially marks the one-month anniversary of the live launch of Obamacare's state and federally run health exchanges, and to say the least it's been difficult at times to separate Obamacare facts from political fiction.

Although it's not a perfect divisor, Republicans almost uniformly oppose the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known affably as Obamacare, while nearly all Democrats support it. This ongoing partisan disagreement was one of the primary sticking points that pushed the government into a shutdown through the first 16 days of October.

Underneath the haze of the political bickering, though, we've been able to uncover 10 Obamacare facts that speak to both the success and failure of this new law in its early stages. Let's have a look at what really matters so far and how it may affect you and your investments.

No. 1: There have been numerous glitches with Healthcare.gov.
In President Obama's own words from a speech 11 days ago, "There's no sugarcoating it. The website has been too slow. People are getting stuck during the application process." The rollout of the federally run health exchange, Healthcare.gov, has been nightmarish, with multiple glitches ranging from incomplete applications received by insurers to users being unable to complete or access the application or identification process.

No. 2: The system wasn't tested enough prior to its launch.
According to Aetna (NYSE: AET  ) CEO Mark Bertolini in an interview with CNBC two-and-a-half weeks ago, "There's so much wrong [with Healthcare.gov], you just don't know what's broken until you get a lot more of it fixed." Bertolini and many of the software architects of Healthcare.gov, including the primary contractor CGI Group, have been openly critical of the government for not allotting enough time to test the system prior to its launch on Oct. 1.

No. 3: It's going to take multiple companies to fix the glitches.
Healthcare.gov's glitches are so complex and cumbersome that it's going to require the Department of Health and Human Services to go outside its list of contractors and bring in private help to fix the problems. Last week USA Today rumored that Verizon as a company that may be called upon for its networking expertise, but the only confirmed outside help we know of is coming from Google, Oracle (NYSE: ORCL  ) , and Red Hat (NYSE: RHT  ) . According to a spokesperson at the HHS via Reuters, "Individuals from Oracle and Red Hat have expertise in site reliability, stability and scalability."Based on Google's global network expertise and out-of-the-box thinking, I can see why it was called upon to assist as well.

No. 4: Everything should be running smoothly by the end of November.
The glitches may appear overwhelming, but Healthcare.gov spokesperson Jeffrey Zients has publicly placed the end of November as the deadline when the website will be running smoothly again for the majority of people in the 36 states relying on Healthcare.gov. What we don't know yet is if there will be repercussions if this date isn't hit, but we know for certain this is the target date you should be watching if you've had trouble accessing Healthcare.gov and you live in one of the 36 states that's reliant on the federally run health exchange.

No. 5: Enrollments are pacing below the targeted rate of signups.
Also according to Jeffrey Zients, approximately 700,000 applications across the country have been filled out -- including both the state and federally run health exchanges – through the first three-and-a-half weeks. But we have no clue how many of those applications have resulted in actual health insurance enrollments. With HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius targeting 7 million enrollees by the coverage cutoff date on March 31, 2014, we know that early stage signups are tracking well below this level. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that signups are expected to be very much back-loaded, with people waiting to enroll to the last minute (i.e., February and March) to pay for their policy.

No. 6: State-run exchanges are outperforming Healthcare.gov in enrollments.
The state-run health exchanges haven't been glitch-free by any means, but in the early going they are handily outperforming Healthcare.gov. Although we have no official enrollment figures to compare against for the federally run site, just two weeks after the 14 state-run exchanges opened roughly 115,000 Americans had signed up, led by New York and Washington state with 40,000 and 24,949 enrollments, respectively.

Source: LaDawna Howard, Flickr.

No. 7: Sentiment toward Obamacare is improving.
You're probably well aware of the vocal opposition against Obamacare, but interest and sentiment toward Obamacare is improving. According to Jeffrey Zients, through three and a half weeks there were 19 million visitors to the Healthcare.gov website, obviously signaling that there's interest by Americans in obtaining affordable health insurance. In addition, an aggregate of seven polls by The Huffington Post last week also shows that the favorability of Obamacare is improving, most likely because of increased familiarity with the law and how it will affect the polled individuals.

No. 8: Private exchanges are flourishing.
Healthcare.gov's pain has been private health insurance platforms' gain. No company has been a bigger beneficiary than Aon (NYSE: AON  ) subsidiary Aon Hewitt, which has landed at least 18 new corporate clients with 5,000 or more employees, including Walgreen with 120,000 eligible employees, as a direct result of corporations shifting away from managing their employees and retirees health insurance. Similarly, eHealth (NASDAQ: EHTH  ) , which has run a private insurance platform for years has seen membership surge year over year and clocked a 24% gain in membership in its latest quarter.

No. 9: There are other ways to sign up for health insurance.
Healthcare.gov may be riddled with issues and a few state-run exchanges aren't even off the ground yet, such as Oregon, but there are other ways you can go about signing up for health insurance other than by using the website. Call centers have seen their staffing increased by 50% to handle an influx of calls from people wishing to apply over the phone. Also, people can return to their pre-Internet roots and apply for health insurance with a pen and paper and mail their application in.

No. 10: The individual mandate isn't going anywhere.
Perhaps the most important and overlooked fact of all is that Obamacare is here to stay and so is the individual mandate, which requires individuals to have insurance by Jan. 1, 2014, or face a penalty of the greater of $95 or 1% of their income in 2014. Speculation has been that regulators would at least push back enforcement of the individual mandate a few weeks or months until Healthcare.gov was fully functional, but that has not been the case. This means that if you don't currently have health insurance, you should be planning to get insurance before the coverage cutoff period passes on March 31, 2014, or be prepared to pay a penalty.

Still unsure how Obamacare will affect you? Let us help!
Obamacare seems complex, but it doesn't have to be. In only minutes, you can learn the critical facts you need to know in a special free report called Everything You Need to Know About Obamacare. But don't hesitate; because it's not often that we release a FREE guide containing this much information and money-making advice. Please click here to access your free copy.


Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2013, at 9:29 PM, peckbill wrote:

    I do not care what the GOP/Tea Party individuals think about the Patient Protection and Affordable Car Act ( ACA); they have lied so much that they, themselves, do not know the truth when it hits them is the face. The majority of the people in America support the ACA. The people that currently shape the application requirement of the ACA are, 1) the poor people are already covered by Medicaid and they are too poor to fight to get the adjustments that ACA dictates in their respective State of residence because of the GOP, 2) the real pinch is against the lower than the middle class and higher than the poor. These are the people that work 40 to 60 hours a week and fight to make ends meet. They really need the ACA to give these people the medical care they need and deserve, and 3) the rich people who do not care about the ACA because they can afford to purchase medical insurance that meets the ACA standards and the cost affordable. The only group of people the GOP supports is those falling into 3), above. The GOP makes no bones about the fact that they will oppose any legislation that is introduced or supported by the Democrats. The President should be place restrictions against those crooks and scammers (including but not limited to insurance companies/groups, hospitals, clinics and doctors’) who want to raise fees, premiums, deductibles, co-pays or other costs by restricting them from receiving ANY government support in the form of loans, grants or payments and those entities shall be restricted from enrolling any individual that needs to rely on the ACA for medical care. The federal government should take positive action to increase the number of FQHCs, Free Clinics and FHCs within the United States of America and its possessions to offer and assist individuals needing health care. The President needs to have a more people oriented HHS and get rid of any individual (including high level managers) who does not approach the ACA mandates and people who need help in a positive manner. The individual States that support the radical GOP agenda must join forces and clean up their State; this is currently happening in Virginia, North Carolina and other GOP controlled states. The people must keep the ball rolling by helping those who normally can’t get to the polls get transportation and become knowledgeable of what is really happening.

    The President has the power and the staff to make it happen and he must prevail for the sake of the American people; but the American people must also join the battle for freedom.

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2013, at 10:33 PM, GuyG wrote:

    Democrats lie and distort and say anything. Obamacare is not liked by most americans. Most americans don't understand it or have a clue and those that do understand it including doctors are not happy with it. It is a mess. The democrats forced it on us and could not wait to launch it because of the little mans big ego and knowing this is his chance to say he did change america. The problem is that most people are going to spend more money and more time and the managagment of this fiasco by the government is going to cost the working people.

    They spend over FIFTY MILLION, $50,000,000.00 USD dollars on a website that can't take a little traffic without crashing and does not work. This is typical of the over spending vote buying crazy people that call themselves democrats and lie to the American people.

    Where is the transparency? How many people signed up today? They say big, lots of people. Thousands.... what is the exact number? What is the exact number of insurance policies being canceled?

    Democracts equal uncheked hand outs to people that could work and won't work because they want their free housing. Democrats are for spending without end and taxing more each term. Most spending, more taxes, Crazy bad people. Don't get sucked into this insanity!!!

    Guy G.

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2013, at 10:44 PM, Kenny wrote:

    I simply CANNOT fathom the ignorance of conservative pundits who incessantly decry the "shocking" number of people who are signing up for Medicaid , as opposed to the govt. exchanges in the Obamacare "healthcare" roll-out ! Don't these IDIOTS realize that GOVERNMENT is the SINGLE-PAYER of Medicaid/Medicare , and the obama administration is laughing at the ignorance on display ? OF COURSE the government wants people to sigh up for Medicaid/Medicare ,, it's SINGLE-PAYER ,, the HOLY GRAIL of Leftist Progressivism !! Why do these idiots refuse to see the light , the obvious , blinding light in front of their noses ? It is INCREDIBLY frustrating to me , as I see the vilification of private healthcare carriers as the opening salvo in the final phase of Socialized Medicine implementation !!!

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2013, at 10:47 PM, Kenny wrote:

    My guess is that my last comment will never reach another person's eyes

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2013, at 11:07 PM, time4revolution wrote:

    Obama, Holder, and Sebilius should be impeached now before they completely destroy our economy. You can't print enough money to get us out of this.

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2013, at 11:24 PM, pn0331 wrote:

    The only fact that's relevant to me is that my health insurance costs just increased by over $2000 for next year. That's $2000 MORE than I'm paying now. Thanks Obama!

  • Report this Comment On November 01, 2013, at 11:33 PM, JePonce wrote:

    It is rhetorical illusion to present Obamacare as having any relationship to health insurance and/or medical care. The illusion was created to insure the uninformed and ignorant continue to flock to Obama and his radical Left-tenants in Congress like rats to the Pied Piper.

    Obamacare is about:

    1) Creating law to destroy the Supreme Law of the Land; namely, the United States Constitution 1st Amendment guaranteeing citizens protection to practice their religious conscience, and the 4th Amendment guaranteeing citizens protection to privacy of their “persons…papers, and effects.”

    2) Creating law to regulate the most basic of human behaviors, under penalty of fine and/or imprisonment.

    3) Creating law to establish new and increasing existing taxes on all citizens regardless of economic class, from higher, to medium, to lower.

    4) Creating law from which a single-payer, central government owned and operated system can be developed to move $5.1 trillion in United States capital created annually by the insurance and health care industries from the private sector to the total control of the central government.

    5) Creating law that increases the power of the central government by decreasing the power of the citizens.

    Contrary to the Fools opinion, no law is settled law.

    If the federal government can ignore laws with which they disagree, like immigration, the citizens can ignore laws with which they disagree, like Obunglecare.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 10:54 AM, btut wrote:

    It amazes me to see how uninformed people are. We as a country should have a national health care system but to allow this one is going to destroy everything. First did anyone see the group who is running this? The IRS. Why you say? Because it will be a taxed income. Hence being taxed you are responsible to pay or there will be repercussions. Miss 1 year loos your driving privileges. Don't pay for 24 months and a Tax Lien is placed on your house. In 5 years half the senior citizens will loose there homes, there life savings on an outrageous insurance. Make $55,000 a year and have a pre-existing condition such as Diabetes. You payment will be around $800 a month and your Deductible will be on average of $8000-12000 a year. Yep that is affordable. This entire system is the next big CASH COW for the government. Since Social Security will be in the red soon, there had to be a new cash flow. The problem with this one it will DESTROY our country. In 5 years we will be a 3rd world country.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2013, at 6:08 PM, skippy wrote:

    As is standard, Liberals have a logic disconnect and an inability to extrapolate cause and effect relationships.

    As it is in every social healthcare program as the costs increase procedures become rationed per Government. Per ACA, seniors over 70 are limited on medical care. Certain medical testing is no longer an option and cannot even be purchased. Perhaps we've all forgotten BO's speech noting seniors should "take a pill" in lieu of proper medical care. Have you forgotten????

    New York, as a litmus test, banned sugar drinks over 16 ounces. Where do you think this is leading??? You want a Big Mac be prepared to pay a heavy tax as a result of your actions affecting the "social good". Liberty and freedom dies and replaced with liberal equality.

    $10 Big Macs. How many jobs suffer and what effects on the economy might this have? Rest assured, we will all "pay our fair share" because this is liberalism and the philosophy of the stupid taking over. "Limited Government".........not in the new Liberal World. This country has produced the most wealth and the highest living standards for the most people in the history of mankind. The average person on welfare, in this country, has two TVs. Liberals will tell you "they know better". Cuba is the perfect Liberal model.

    Careful folks, and welcome to the New World.

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