October 1, 2013 was a historic day for health care access in the United States, the day the health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act opened for business. The website came online on October 1.
"Despite the government shutdown, Americans who have been without health insurance or those who purchase insurance for themselves, their families or their small businesses will be able to research, compare and shop for affordable insurance options," says Jon Bailey, director of rural research and analysis at the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Neb. "This is a major step in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but we urge patience -- early indications across the nation are that there is so much interest in the marketplaces that there may be delays.
"While observing how the online system functions, some of our own staff experienced usage related delays on the Nebraska marketplace immediately upon its opening," says Bailey. Bailey also points out that while delays are understandably frustrating, they are also a sign of overwhelming interest in and need for affordable health insurance options across the nation.
An overwhelming interest in and need for affordable health insurance options
"October 1st is only the opening of the enrollment period, which runs through March 2014 and everyone only needs to have insurance by January 1, 2014. As we have said all along: Be patient," continued Bailey. "Wait awhile, give the dust a chance to settle. Do your research. Ask for help from navigators, insurance agents and other assistors in your community. And select the best choice for you, your family and your business."