Though the wrinkles are being smoothed out of the insurance sign-up experience on healthcare.gov, many people are confused about their options and the upcoming deadlines.
Critics say the Obama administration should have done a better job of getting the word out in the months that led up to the launch of the health insurance exchanges on Oct. 1. But Anton Gunn, from the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, insists what’s important is that the administration is now getting the messaging right for the people who need it.
“People focus on what’s important and right in their face,” said Gunn, speaking on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin. “If you can’t enroll in a plan, which you couldn’t do before October 1, again, effectively, no one was paying attention to what was different. But now that you can enroll in coverage, more people are paying attention. That’s why we had such a demand when we opened enrollment on October 1. Four million people [visiting] in the first day or so. And we’ve seen that continue to grow.”
Journalist Keli Goff, who participated in a roundtable discussion with Gunn, was unwilling to let him off the hook. Effective advance communication was vital, she said. “It is completely the fault of the administration if you couldn’t get your base to mobilize around this issue until after October, or [reach] the people who use this and see why they couldn’t use it.”
Looking ahead, Gunn shared what happens after the current open enrollment period for 2014 ends on March 31. “There are some special circumstances — if you lose a job, or if you get married, you have a life event — you can enroll into a special enrollment period that happens after March 31. But for everybody else, the next open enrollment period starts that following October… and it goes until the end of the year.”