WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – The online insurance marketplaces that are at the heart of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul struggled to handle the wave of new consumers Tuesday, the first day of a six-month open-enrollment period.
A combination of high demand and technical glitches seemed to overwhelm the online system early in the day. Federal and state officials were working to address the problems, which led to long waits on government websites and a federal call center.
For 21 percent of those who are uninsured, however, the technical difficulties with accessing the online system don’t matter, as they do not use the Internet, according to a release posted by the Pew Research Center.
“Some of the groups most likely to not have health insurance are the same as those groups most likely to not be online,” researchers noted. “This includes Hispanics, those who have not attended college, and those living in lower-income households.”
Of the 79 remaining percent of uninsured adults in the United States who access the Internet, younger people are expected to benefit the most from the availability of the online health exchange.
In all, a reported 18 percent of all American adults do not have health insurance, Pew noted.
The nationwide rollout comes after months of buildup in which the marketplaces associated with the Affordable Care Act – known also as “Obamacare” – have been both praised and vilified.
The government shutdown, now in its second day, will have no immediate effect on the insurance marketplaces that are the backbone of the law, because they operate with money that isn’t subject to the annual budget wrangling in Washington.
The information was discovered as part of Pew’s Internet & American Life Project Health Survey, which was conducted between August 7 and September 6 of 2012. An estimated 3,014 randomly selected American adults participated in the survey in all.
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