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Obamacare Shop Hopping

by Thomas MacMillan | Dec 6, 2013 2:48 pm

(13) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Health, State

Thomas MacMillan Photo Obamacare may be flopping nationally, but business is quietly booming in a health care exchange storefront at 55 Church St., where 50 people have been signing up per day.

Kevin Counihan shared that statistic Friday morning at the storefront, which is part of Access Health CT. That’s the state health care exchange set up as part of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Counihan, the CEO of Access Health, was joined at the storefront by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro Friday morning. They were all in town to mark the official opening of the New Haven’s health-exchange outpost, and to brag about Connecticut’s relatively successful Obamacare roll-out.

The Affordable Care Act is designed to extend health insurance coverage to many who can’t now afford it. Each state is required to either set up its own health insurance exchange—a marketplace for different health plans—or tap into a federally created exchange. Connecticut chose the former option.

The law also includes new subsidies for people with low incomes, along with a requirement that people sign up for some kind of insurance.

On the national level, the Obamacare rollout has been plagued by embarrassing screw-ups, including a national website that was barely functional when it debuted.

Meanwhile, Connecticut, which set up its own exchange, is going great guns, according to Counihan, DeLauro and Murphy.

Counihan said Access Health storefronts have been signing up about 50 people per day, each.

Mike Dunn, the store manager, said the operation has been open for a month. The storefront is decorated with warm colors and photos of smiling people, and staffed by a variety of outreach workers, brokers, and “assistors” who are trained to help people sign up for health insurance. The storefront is designed for people who don’t sign up over the phone or online, people who “don’t want to talk on the phone or aren’t as computer literate.”

That describes Ron Vece (pictured), who was looking into health insurance options Friday with his wife, a self-employed illustrator. He said he can find the on/off switch on a computer and that’s about as far as he gets. “I use a piece of paper. I could never do this on my own,” he said, sitting down with an assistor and a laptop PC.

Vece said he hasn’t had health insurance for about 10 years, because it’s so expensive. Vece, who’s disabled after a car accident, said he’s seen quotes as high as $35,000 a year. He’d have to sell his house to afford it, he said.

“We are the only state in the nation having this kind of accessibility for people,” said DeLauro (pictured). The congresswoman, a cancer survivor, said she’ll be signing up with the exchange herself.

“We have crossed 30,000 sign-ups in Connecticut,” said Murphy. Connecticut is surpassing its goals because it is “working to implement the law, not undermine it,” said Murphy.

When Obamacare is made accessible to people, “you find that people desperately want this product,” he said.

Murphy said “there’s no excuse” for the federal website not being ready when it debuted. But, he said, the “record numbers” are now signing up, after a round of bug fixes.

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posted by: Pantagruel on December 6, 2013  4:42pm

Obamacare is not flopping nationally. Nice rhetoric, but not true. Certainly, too soon to make that conclusion.

posted by: Threefifths on December 6, 2013  6:35pm

Again Snake-Oil being sold.Read this.

Obamacare VS Single Payer – Top 10 Things the ACA Gave Us VS the Top 10 We Gave Up–-top-10-things-aca-gave-us-vs-top-10-we-gave

posted by: Threefifths on December 6, 2013  7:13pm

Also read.Physicians for a National Health Program

posted by: KAV on December 6, 2013  8:57pm

“The Affordable Care Act is designed to extend health insurance coverage to many who can’t now afford it.” My wife and I are retired and have a comfortable, but not a deluxe standard of living on our fixed income. We do not qualify for subsidies. The premiums and the out of cost expenses in CT are outrageous, particularly when compared to other states. We are paying more for items we don’t need like maternity so our extra expense can pay for some other person’s subsidies. To me this is unfair. This is nothing more than government’s new attempt to redistribute the “wealth” of the middle class. I worked hard for my what I have and the government just keeps trying to take it away. First and foremost CT needs to find a way to lower their health care cost. Just look at what other state exchanges are costing. On the whole much lower.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on December 6, 2013  9:17pm

DeLauro can’t resist telling voters how everything she supports is free, free, free! So that’s why you should keep her in office in perpetuity.  Here’s what she WON’T tell you: 40 percent of CT enrollees have been put on Medicaid—which an ever-decreasing number of physicians accept due to the low reimbursement rate. And part of the Affordable HealthCare Act mandates that this reimbursement rate be lowered even further. Of CT enrollees put on private insurance, 41 percent are over age 55 and most likely have chronic, expensive illnesses. Only 26 percent are under age 35. Yet this latter demographic is supposed to provide most of the financial support for ObamaCare. Concluson? ObamaCare—like all federal entitlement programs—is   not even remotely sustainable. Yes, of course we need safety net programs. But this law as it currently stands is nothing but a vote-grubbing, budget-busting gimmick.  Add it to the list of crushing financial burdens that careerist politicians like DeLauro have dumped on Millennials.

posted by: TheMadcap on December 6, 2013  9:19pm


It did definitely flop the first 6-7 weeks of it, it didn’t have any other option given the fact most people around the country couldn’t sign up even when they tried. The re-launch has been pretty successful though. signed up more people in the first two days of December(30,000) than the entire month of October.(26,000)

Also in Oregon, their exchange site hasn’t work at all, period, still doesn’t, which bucks the trend of state exchanges. Most states(well the dozen or so that have their own) had their exchanges working reasonably well on launch day or within a few days.

posted by: TheMadcap on December 7, 2013  2:05pm

I like how Christopher Schaefer complains not enough doctors supposedly take Medicaid, and this is a flaw in the plan, over the previous circumstances of not being able to go to a doctor period for poor people previously. And enrollment still has 3 1/2 months to go, it’s likely demographic age will trend downward as time goes on.

“so our extra expense can pay for some other person’s subsidies.”

You realize this is the entire basis of the thing known as insurance right?

posted by: Pantagruel on December 7, 2013  5:11pm

The ACA is not just the website. It’s not a flop because my children can be covered on my policy until they are 26. Guaranteed issue, no lifetime limits, coverage for pre- existing conditions, and closing the Medicare donut hole are not flops. I try to take the long view. Chou En Lai was once asked whether the French Revolution was a success. “It’s too soon to tell,” he replied.

You may never have—heaven forbid—cancer, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s, so by your reasoning why should your insurance pay for people who do? Your reasoning is no different from those without children not wanting to pay taxes for education.

In a more sane DC political environment, the parties would come together to fix the inevitable problems of any major legislation. I don’t see the Republicans, any time soon, looking for fixes rather than scrapping the whole thing—as the Democrats helped fix Medicare D. 

Personally, I too would like Medicare for all—single payer. But if you look at the advanced economies who do better than us on public health statistics—namely, all of them—for at least 1/2 cost per capita as we spend, you’ll see a mix of systems. The UK have socialized medicine. Canada has socialized insurance. But Switzerland has a privatized system that is similar to the ACA. The key seems to run it on a non-profit basis. (In Switzerland, insurance providers make money by selling “value added” services.) The ACA goes partway to nonprofit status by requiring insurance companies to spend 85 percent of premiums on care—or to provide a subscriber rebate if they don’t.

Let’s not have the perfect be the enemy of the good.

posted by: KAV on December 7, 2013  11:27pm

TheMadcap: Like many, many others, I pay well over several thousand dollars in Federal taxes, well over $8000.00 in Local taxes, to say nothing of the many hidden taxes (such as the monthly universal phone charge) to pay for cell phones for low income individuals, etc. Someone who is considered middle class who is on a fixed income should not have to bear the brunt of continually higher and higher taxes, premiums and sky high out of pocket medical expenses to foot the bill for the majority of those that will now enroll in the ACA. The stats thus far indicate that a large number of people will be enrolled into the Medicad program, paying little or nothing for their health care. Myself and others like me have worked hard for what “wealth” we have and have worked hard to stay healthy and not abuse the system. I don’t mind paying, I just mind paying so much, with no ceiling in sight. If Obama/Administration spent half as much energy and money on really building the economy as they do on this Rube Goldberg ACA, we would all rise up together. Continually getting something for nothing is the quickest way to put America on the path to becoming even more of a European style country.

posted by: Threefifths on December 7, 2013  11:31pm

We have a Existing Single-Payer Universal Healthcare System.It is call VA hospitals.A single pay system would optimize the statistical analysis for prediction and research. The medical science would improve and thus drive down costs and make it easier to spot environmental health costs. This would make it easier to make sure companies report the true cost of doing business including health and environmental effects.Under ACA we are still under the insurance company vultures.

posted by: TheMadcap on December 8, 2013  1:25pm


What are these extra taxes you’re speak of. Yo worked hard for your wealth? You know who also works hard for their meager wealth? These people you’re decrying for their free Medicaid. You complain about the amount of taxes you’re paying, you listed at least $12,000. You know what $12,000 also is? About 3/4 of the net income of someone working full time at $9/hr who will finally not die from lack of health care. Not to mention, unless you’re in the top 10% of income earners, your federal income tax contributions are pretty meager since near 2/3 of income taxes that keep things running are coming from 10% of the population(which is appropriate given its near on par with their share of national wages taken home). How is the ACA responsible for hikes? Tell me how health insurances companies never hiked premiums prior to 2010.

One could only wish we had moved more towards a European style country, those places with higher ranked health care systems, higher life expectancies, lower infant mortality rates, and much lower costs when it comes to health care. We could’ve set up a public option, we could’ve set up non-profit insurance companies that offered competitive rates(we were supposed to give that a preliminary try, the funding for them went out the door in the 2011 budget deal), but no, instead we got the right-wing hog-wash that is the ACA, a plan that is 90% the plan the Heritage foundation came up with and the Republican party promoted from 1994-2009. Still better than nothing though. Plus Vermont just passed a bill to move the state to a single payer system starting in 2017. If that goes off well you can expect many more states to join in.

posted by: KAV on December 8, 2013  7:00pm

Yes, but TheMadcap, the difference is I worked hard, very hard and long, very long for my money. America use to support and encourage hard and long work.

posted by: Stan Muzyk on December 10, 2013  11:38am

ThreeFifths:  You are correct in your assessment of the the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center’s as being good example’s of a single payer Universal HealthCare System

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