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Kathleen Sebelius forced to cite poll to prove Obamacare is popular

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Obamacare,Kathleen Sebelius,Healthcare.gov

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finally has proof that Americans want Obamacare: not from any federal website numbers, or phone calls of people signing up for health insurance, but from a new poll.

“A new Commonwealth Fund survey confirms just how eager Americans are to purchase coverage through the new Health Insurance Marketplace,” she bragged in a blog post Tuesday even as her team was trying to fix the crashed Obamacare website.

By now, a month since Obamacare began, she had hoped to be able to cheer the numbers of people who had signed up through Healthcare.gov, but the website’s failure has forced Sebelius to grab at positive polls.

At least the Commonwealth Fund poll gave her an idea of who is trying to sign up. “According to this study, one in five visitors to the Marketplace was age 19 to 29. Of those who have visited the site, but who haven’t yet enrolled, about a third (37%) cite technical difficulties,” she blogged.

Her column is below:

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services

Posted November 5, 2013

Over these past three and a half years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with everyday people in every part of our country who have been waiting years for the opportunity to get covered by affordable health insurance. Some folks have even been waiting their entire lives. People who live with a painful medical condition that could be treated – if only they could afford the treatments. Folks who can’t afford the cholesterol or cancer screenings that could save their lives. Moms and dads who are at risk of going bankrupt or losing their homes because of unpayable medical bills. Young people who can’t afford to fill their prescriptions. People who have had to max out their credit cards after accidents they never anticipated happening to them.

One of the things we’ve learned since October 1 is that the demand for affordable health coverage is very, very high. And, in fact, a new Commonwealth Fund survey confirms just how eager Americans are to purchase coverage through the new Health Insurance Marketplace.

The survey found that Americans across our country are aware of the Marketplace and plan to shop for affordable coverage. Some of those who are the most eager to purchase affordable coverage happen to be young, healthy adults.

In fact, according to this study, one in five visitors to the Marketplace was age 19 to 29. Of those who have visited the site, but who haven’t yet enrolled, about a third (37%) cite technical difficulties. A majority (nearly 60 percent) say they are committed to shopping some more for a plan in the Marketplace and checking out their eligibility for financial help.

We owe it to these Americans – and every other American – to refresh the user experience on HealthCare.gov. And we are working day and night until we get this site fixed.

And it’s important to remember that the Affordable Care Act is more than just a website. It creates a new market, which allows people access to quality, affordable health insurance options. It does this by pooling consumers into statewide groups that spread risk between sick people and healthy people, between young and old, and then bargains on their behalf for the best deal on health insurance. There is competition where there wasn’t competition before, and insurers are now eager for new business, and have created new health care plans with more choices. People will have comprehensive coverage that can no longer be taken away just because they get sick.

Premiums in the Marketplace are lower than expected, and millions of Americans will qualify for tax credits to make coverage even more affordable. Overall, nearly 6 in 10 uninsured individuals may qualify for quality coverage for $100 or less per month. And the Marketplace provides a range of options for people with differing needs and budgets. According to the New York Times, up to seven million people could qualify for zero-premium plans in the Marketplace – many of which are bronze plans – and about half of those people are under 39 and uninsured.

HealthCare.gov can and will be fixed, and we are working around the clock to deliver the shopping experience that you deserve.

Americans can sign up by December 15, 2013, for coverage starting as early as January 1, 2014. Open enrollment continues until March 31, 2014.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.