SOTU Extra: Obamacare uncertainty

Originally published March 8, 2014

(CNN)As March 31st quickly approaches, the Obamacare enrollment deadline has some people worried, and others simply confused. In short, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a set of health reforms that guarantees all Americans have access to affordable health insurance. By March 31st, the Obamacare program mandates that all Americans sign up for health care, or face a penalty. The fee for not having health insurance is $95 per individual, or 1% of your taxable income, whichever is greater. If Americans do not sign up by the open enrollment deadline at the end of March, not only will they have to pay the penalty fee, but they will have to wait until November when the open enrollment marketplace reopens.

Yet even as millions of Americans are signing up for the program, opposition to Obamacare is at the forefront of political conversation. The Republican-led House passed the 50th bill this week to undo Obamacare. Since the creation of the ACA, the Republican Party has been has been voting to repeal it entirely, or at least alter some of its provisions. The most recent GOP bill would delay the penalty fees for Americans who fail to sign up for health coverage by March 31st.
The latest surveys indicate that around 700,000 people enrolled in Obamacare in February, raising the total number to roughly 4 million enrollments. However, with a little less than a month to go, March enrollments will need to hit record numbers in order to reach the Obama administration's goal of 6 million. Some say that the goal seems out of reach. And this week a key contributor to the implementation of Obamacare has announced his resignation as the Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. Gary Cohen, who leads the agency that created many rules and marketplaces for Obamacare, plans on resigning after the March 31st deadline.
Now, many uninsured Americans find themselves in a financially uncertain state of what to do next. While President Obama promised that the Affordable Care Act would mostly benefit the uninsured, recent surveys and polls are showing the opposite results. A Kaiser Family Foundation tracking survey from February shows that 76% of the uninsured are not even aware of the looming March 31st deadline. Groups in support of Obamacare are organizing nearly 4,000 events to promote enrollments before the deadline. These next few weeks are crucial for the Obama administration, which is hoping to rack up the enrollment numbers to reach its final goal.