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Exchanges See High Volume, Glitches On First Day Of Enrollment

The Affordable Care Act’s online insurance exchanges opened for business on Tuesday. While the President hailed the opening of the exchanges in a Rose Garden speech, much of the press coverage focuses on technical glitches which prevented many applicants from enrolling for coverage. Still, many pieces highlighted the high number of Americans who visited the sites across the country.

The opening of the exchanges was covered by all three network news broadcasts Tuesday evening. The exchanges led one network news broadcast Tuesday and is the subject of reports in several major newspapers as well as two wire reports, several Capitol Hill publications, and several local papers this morning. ABC World News reported that “2.8 million Americans and counting have checked the government website for their options” but noted that there were “reports of some technical glitches, some delays.” ABC (Faris) added the White House said “they’re, quote, ‘pleased’ with the amount of traffic on that website.”

NBC Nightly News reported that Tuesday was “the first opportunity for millions of Americans to go to these new exchanges and sign up for insurance under Obamacare,” but “so many people tried to do that computers crashed.” NBC (Costello) noted that Republicans argued that “with so many glitches...Obamacare is not ready.” The President argued that “the system crashed because of how popular it was.”

In its lead story, the CBS Evening News reported that there were “major problems” with the exchanges as websites across the nation “were slow or crashed all together, leaving a lot of folks angry and frustrated.” CBS (Andrews) added that because “millions of people flooded the system, the government website for Obamacare – Healthcare.gov – temporarily broke under the strain.” CBS also noted that states running their own exchanges “also had delays.”

The Washington Post (10/2, Somashekhar, Kliff) calls the opening of the Web-based insurance marketplaces “a landmark moment for the embattled program that is at the heart of the standoff on Capitol Hill,” but notes that while the President “hailed the day as historic” during a Rose Garden speech, many uninsured Americans “ran into technical glitches that prevented them from enrolling.” The Post notes that Administration officials “said they are aware of the problems on the federal site and are working on them.”

The New York Times (10/1, Pérez-Peña, Pear, Subscription Publication) reports that the “technical problems and delays that plagued the rollout” were due in part to the heavy volume of traffic to the sites. The Times notes that it is unclear what the exchanges meant by “heavy volume” since “most did not provide numbers, or even return phone calls in the first hours of operation.”

The Wall Street Journal (10/1, Weaver, Subscription Publication) also focuses its coverage on delays and technical problems on the Federal site and state exchanges.

USA Today (10/2, O'Donnell, Kennedy) also draws attention to the technical problems, noting that they “marred the first hours of the centerpiece of President Obama’s health law.” USA Today adds that the President “noted the glitches in an afternoon conference, saying they are expected with ‘every new law, every new product sign up.’”

And in a separate article, USA Today (10/1, Kennedy) emphasizes that whether the exchanges are a “success” or a “failure” will take “months to appear.”

ACR Daily News Scan, BulletinHealthcare, October 2, 2013)


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