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In symbolic step, Obama enrolls in health exchange

By Josh Lederman

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:39 p.m. HST, Dec 23, 2013

He won't use it, and he didn't actually sign up for it himself, but President Barack Obama has enrolled for health coverage through the new insurance exchanges.

Announcing his enrollment Monday, the White House called it a symbolic show of Obama's support for the fledgling exchanges where millions of Americans must buy insurance or face a penalty. Ironically, it also served as a reminder of just how complex and sometimes daunting the process can be.

Obama, like so many other Americans, couldn't use the website.

"The complicated nature of the president's case required an in-person sign-up," the White House said.

White House officials noted that for security reasons, the president's personal information is not readily available in government databases that the exchanges use to verify identities and check eligibility for tax subsidies.

But millions of other Americans have faced website glitches that made signing up through the exchanges difficult or impossible, particularly in the initial weeks before massive fixes to the site were put in place.

Unable to offer a camera-friendly photo-op of the president breezing through an improved HealthCare.gov, the White House quietly announced on Monday that, sometime over the weekend, aides had enrolled Obama through an in-person enrollment site while the president was vacationing in Hawaii.

"The president enrolled in a health care plan made available by the Affordable Care Act on the D.C. marketplace," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in an email.

As commander in chief, the president receives his health care through the military, so his new coverage will go unused. Rather, the move fulfills a commitment to personally participate that Obama made in 2010, when he signed into law the Affordable Care Act requiring millions of uninsured Americans to buy insurance or face a penalty.

Obama selected a "bronze" plan, the least-expensive plan available for someone his age. The White House said the plan Obama chose will cost him less than $400 a month. The president's wife and daughters, who already have health care, did not enroll.

Because of the president's income level and the fact that his job provides health care, he won't be eligible for tax subsidies that many lower-income Americans receive to offset the premium price. The president will pay the full premium himself.

Obama's enrollment in the exchange came just before Monday's deadline for Americans to sign up for insurance and still receive coverage starting Jan. 1. But even that deadline came with a caveat, underscoring the degree to which the implementation of Obama's top legislative achievement is still a work in progress.

Anticipating heavy website traffic by those looking to beat the deadline, the Obama administration effectively extended it by a day, giving people in 36 states a one-day grace period to select a plan.

The White House said a vacationing Obama received a detailed update on Sunday about preparations for that and other deadlines, and would continue to be briefed throughout his stay in Honolulu.

By the afternoon, the website had received a record 850,000 visits, five times the number logged by the same time last Monday, the administration said.

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OutsidelookingIn wrote:
Really just a symbolic enrollment LIAR!!!
on December 23,2013 | 10:48AM
eoe wrote:
Dude, I think you forgot your meds this morning.
on December 23,2013 | 10:58AM
lee1957 wrote:
How did he "quietly" sign up when its plastered all over the news? Of course he had no special portal, just bided his time like everyone else.
on December 23,2013 | 10:49AM
You people should really read the story before commenting. It will make your comments appear to be more intelligent.
on December 23,2013 | 11:34AM
OutsidelookingIn wrote:
"Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii, did not personally enroll himself in a plan, and didn't go through the website. Instead, staffers enrolled the president ..." No he was too busy playing golf and is on vacation and didn't want to waste his time waiting to get to the website
on December 23,2013 | 11:09AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Never passes up a PR op.... so shibai.
on December 23,2013 | 11:29AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Da mned if he does sign up and da mned if he doesn't. You folks are so transparent. If he walked on water you'd claim he was biased against swimming.
on December 23,2013 | 11:39AM
Bdpapa wrote:
A lot of us have some issues with him, but you got to admit this is a little transparent. He will never use this coverage!
on December 23,2013 | 11:52AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I agree. In fact, it was absolutely tone deaf. What were we supposed to conclude from this bone head move? That his current health plan is inadequate? That he actually sat at a computer for hours trying to get through? That this bronze plan is more affordable to a millionaire? That his DoD plan was in danger of changing? That he couldn't keep his current doctor?

As a publicity move, I suspect this one will come back to bite. It just pizzzed me off for no good reason. I suspect a lot of others felt the same way.

on December 23,2013 | 02:34PM
AhiPoke wrote:
I agree with your comments but I also think people who defend this president have selected vision. How can any objective person not see all of his lies and not hear all of his divisive retoric.
on December 23,2013 | 11:53AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
And people who incessantly attack this President no matter what he does ALSO have selected vision.
on December 23,2013 | 12:48PM
AhiPoke wrote:
A bit touchy, huh? As I stated, I agreed with your initial comments. You must resemble one of the above. LOL
on December 23,2013 | 01:37PM
purigorota wrote:
It would have been more symbolic if he was the first to sign up.
on December 23,2013 | 12:19PM
inlanikai wrote:
What a crock! And an insulting one at that. If he really wanted to sympathize with tha masses he would forego his military health care and use Obamacare. Take a lesson of humility from the new Pope, Mr. president.
on December 23,2013 | 12:25PM
cojef wrote:
Now here's a guy who knows the real truth. You gotto love Pope Francis, and I'm not even a Catholic. His humility is astounding.
on December 23,2013 | 02:29PM
retire wrote:
What afarce.
on December 23,2013 | 01:01PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Considering the website cost $650 Million and is a total piece of junk, I'd say a lot more substance and lot less symbolism would be appreciated.
on December 23,2013 | 02:36PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
"not see all of his lies and not hear all of his divisive retoric".... no not touchy at all. Just calling it as I see it.
on December 23,2013 | 03:15PM
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