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Enrollments for Obamacare start off strong

  • HEALTHCARE.GOV
    The front page of HealthCare.gov, a federal government website managed by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service.
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WASHINGTON >> Sign-up season for President Barack Obama’s health care law is off to a stronger start this year. But it’s not perfect, and Americans remain skeptical that the government’s newest social program is right for the country.

As one major enrollment deadline loomed Monday, officials granted a last-minute extension for some consumers facing long telephone hold times at the federal call center. They were being asked to leave a number to get called back starting Tuesday.

Public attitudes toward Obama’s signature law are only slightly less chilly than before the congressional midterm elections that saw Republicans, still clamoring for its repeal, win both chambers of Congress.

An Associated Press-GfK poll earlier this month found an uptick for the Affordable Care Act, with 29 percent saying they support it, compared with 25 percent in October. Opposition to “Obamacare” was stable at 41 percent, while the rest were on the fence.

In most states, midnight Monday, Pacific time, was the deadline for new customers to pick a health plan to take effect Jan. 1. It was also the deadline for current enrollees to make changes that could reduce premium increases before the new year. 

Open enrollment actually runs for another two months, until Feb. 15. People enrolling by that date will get coverage starting March 1. Current customers can still make plan changes through Feb 15.

As recently as last week, administration officials were saying there was no plan to extend Monday’s deadline. But late in the day, spokesman Aaron Albright said that because of long wait times at the call center, some callers were being asked to leave a number. “We will call them back at a convenient time starting tomorrow, and if they select a plan, their coverage will still begin on Jan. 1,” Albright said in a statement.

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