Only 346 Oklahomans selected a health insurance plan in the first month of the federal health insurance marketplace's existence, according to federal government data released Wednesday.
The federal marketplace, created through the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” launched Oct. 1.
But the marketplace's website has been fraught with error, causing delays in enrollment for countless residents.
A total of 6,905 applications have been completed in Oklahoma, meaning hundreds of Oklahomans have gotten through the website's application process but haven't yet taken the next step to sign up for coverage.
David Blatt, the Oklahoma Policy Institute director, said glitches on HealthCare.gov were tremendously disappointing, but it's heartening to hear that people have still gotten through the website to complete applications.
“It's going to require a real effort to assure people that things have been fixed,” Blatt said. “At the same time, the need is out there, the demand is there, and we know there are thousands of Oklahomans who are looking to the exchange to get the affordable coverage they have not had in the past.”
Oklahoma's lawmakers were less enthusiastic.
Gov. Mary Fallin was quick to respond to the federal government's announcement, noting it's embarrassing that the Obama administration couldn't produce a functional website.
“Virtually everything this White House has told the American people about Obamacare has proven to be false,” Fallin said in a prepared statement. “The president said the law would lower the cost of health insurance, but we know that state employees in Oklahoma are seeing their premiums rise by as much as 12 percent. He said if you liked your health insurance plan you could keep it. We now know for millions of Americans that has proven to be untrue.”
The 346 Oklahomans who have chosen a plan don't represent the number of Oklahomans who have paid for a plan.
In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human ServicesKathleen Sebelius said they weren't yet releasing data on the number of people for fear of accuracy issues.
Sebelius noted that when Massachusetts launched Romneycare, a health care insurance reform law, there was initially a slow rate of enrollment.