Kate Pickert notes that the “insurance exchange web sites scheduled to launch this morning were riddled with glitches, rendering many unusable”:
The exchanges, or marketplaces, are where millions of uninsured Americans are expected to sign up for new health insurance plans and access federal subsidies to make coverage more affordable. An open enrollment period lasts until March 31, 2014, and the earliest new coverage can begin is Jan. 1, 2014, so there is time correct web site snafus. But widespread glitches have complicated the Obama Administration’s efforts to heavily promote the law the same day Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act led to a shut down of other parts of the federal government.
Yglesias expects the shutdown to decrease reporting on these problems:
The reality is that the first few days are likely to be rough and then the experience will improve. Absent a government shutdown, though, the rough first few days would be a dominant political story and cover everyone’s perception. With eyes glued on the shutdown this week, HHS will have the chance to do fixes and anyone who can’t log on today will just come back next week.
Ezra agrees that the shutdown “gives the administration, as well as the states, a bit more breathing room to find and fix bugs in the early days without seeing the law declared a failure.” But:
The downside for the law is that less focus on Obamacare means fewer people hearing that the insurance marketplaces have gone live, and thus fewer people knowing they should go and sign up for coverage. The Obama administration, some of the states, and a consortium of outside actors all have plans to promote the law through paid media in the coming weeks and months, but the launch could’ve earned them a lot of valuable free media.