Obamacare: Six million sign up despite hitches and opposition from Republicans

Law was crippled by early problems with the federal online site

US Editor

Not quite the disaster it threatened to be, the universal healthcare law pushed through by the US President, Barack Obama, four years ago and now in the first stages of implementation has attracted a more-or-less respectable six million people just ahead of a 31 March deadline for Americans to sign up.

The number, announced by Mr Obama in a conference call with workers and volunteers involved in luring customers to the online exchanges where policies are offered, is still short of the seven million originally projected for the first sign-up period. But it’s a deal better than seemed likely even a few weeks ago.

The sense of relief at the White House is tangible. And with a final surge of sign-ups expected this weekend it’s possible that the final number will creep closer to seven million. The law was crippled by early problems with the federal online site as well as relentless opposition from Republicans.

That millions have committed themselves to the system makes talk by the Republican right of repealing the law seem pie in the sky. That does not mean, however, that there won’t be attempts to repair some its more problematic features, in some instances even with support from nervous Democrats.

And if there is fizz in the West Wing it will still taste flat. The overall enrolment number conceals all kinds of unanswered questions about the law’s viability. We do not know, for example, what proportion of those who have signed up have actually made a first payment on their premiums. The government isn’t saying, but it could be that 20 per cent have enrolled without putting out money.

“Falling one million short of the proclaimed goal is nothing to celebrate – not to mention the White House still refuses to disclose the most important figure of who’s paid,” said Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. “As the administration scrambles to conceal its incompetence, millions of Americans are enduring cancelled health plans, higher premiums and lost access to trusted doctors.”

It remains far from clear how close the law, known as Obamacare, will ever come to meeting its original goal: bringing at least an approximation of universal healthcare to America. The majority of those opting in right now are people who already had coverage but are looking for cheaper options. There are still close to 40 million people who have no coverage at all.

The law, officially the Affordable Care Act, remains a mighty political liability for Mr Obama and his party which is likely to get a walloping in mid-term congressional elections in November. A new AP-GfK poll last week suggested that a mere 26 per cent of Americans support the law, the lowest level ever.

Reaching the six-million mark did not come easily. In recent weeks the White House has made a huge effort to persuade sceptical Americans that the online insurance exchange had been fixed. Two groups that came in for particular lobbying were Latinos and young Americans, whose participation is crucial if the law is going to make financial sense.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
arts + ents
Life and Style
tech

Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)

Extras
indybest
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: 2x Service Desk Analyst

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...

Langley James : IT Project Manager; 6 month FTC; Brighton; £400p/d

£400 - £420 per day: Langley James : IT Project Manager; 6 month FTC; Brighton...

Langley James : Web Developer; PHP, MySQL, Java; Blackfriars; £25k

£25000 per annum + training: Langley James : Web Developer; PHP, MySQL, Java; ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager - Holiday Homes - £100,000 OTE

£40000 - £60000 per annum + £100,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: Birmingham, Derby, L...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?