The last-minute Obamacare enrollment looks a lot like the DMV

There was ample evidence over the weekend of a last minute surge in applications for coverage under the Obama health law, as thousands of Americans stood in lines in a number of states, flooded phone lines and visited the federal web exchange to enroll for private health insurance before the March 31 open enrollment deadline.

“Here’s what a successful ACA enrollment fair looks like,” said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) on Twitter referring to the official name of the health law, as she sent out a photo of a lengthy line of people standing outside in Las Vegas, waiting to get help with insurance coverage.

“This is what momentum looks like,” said Tara McGuinness, a White House spokeswoman, as she led efforts by the White House and officials from Enroll America in using social media to spread photographs of people waiting to sign up for health coverage, with backers of the health law excitedly asking, “Apple Store opening or ACA surge?”

Officials at reported on Sunday that there were so many telephone calls, that consumers were being told to leave their information so they could be contacted later; 270,000 people called in for help on Saturday, plus 1.2 million people visited, a record in terms of volume.

Photo: WSB
Photo: WSB

The spike in interest wasn’t only noticed by those who support the health law.

“Thousands packed the Cashman Center for a free healthcare enrollment event Saturday,” reported KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, detailing a rush of late applicants in the Silver State.

“Thousands lined up Friday outside the El Paso County Coliseum, scrambling to enroll for health care,” read a story in the El Paso Times newspaper about signup efforts in Texas.

“On Saturday, thousands of people lined up at the Fresno Fairgrounds to get help enrolling,” reported KFSN in Fresno, California, a state where backers were predicting a large increase in signup numbers in recent days.

Photo: WSB
Photo: WSB

The rush came as the March 31 enrollment deadline loomed for the Obama health law – but it’s sort of a squishy deadline, as the Obama Administration last week said you will be granted extra time to enroll, just as long as you have started the application process by Monday.

All around the country, health care organizers were reporting a jump in interest in enrollment.

“We had another strong day yesterday with 11 enrollment events and an 80 person phone bank,” said Dante McKay, the head of coverage efforts in Georgia through the group Enroll America.

“People lining up to enroll,” tweeted officials from Get Covered NC about an event in Charlotte on Sunday.

Last week, the Obama Administration said enrollment numbers had gone over 6 million, some backers boasted that this final weekend rush would get it closer to 7 million, the original goal of the White House for the end of the first open enrollment period.

Health law backers complain of media bias

It might be hard for some critics of the health law to accept this view, but New York Times columnist Paul Krugman lashed out at the news media in a column on Sunday, accusing news outlets of ignoring positive news about the Obama health law.

“It’s not in itself that big a deal, but I’m somewhat amazed by what amounts to a de facto news black out by major news media on a developing story,” Krugman wrote.

“And where I think this does matter is that it shows a persistent slant in much reporting toward emphasizing the negatives about health reform,” Krugman added, making an argument that few on the GOP side are likely to share.


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