- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2014

President Obama says the federal Obamacare exchange works “flawlessly” and that returning customers should “go shopping” before the end of the day for a good deal on coverage that starts Jan. 1.

“It’s a good Christmas present for people who already have signed up for the Affordable Care Act to just take the time to go shopping. It won’t take you long, and you may end up saving money,” he told Ryan Seacrest in a taped phone interview that aired Monday.

Although customers have until Feb. 15 to sign up for health insurance under the law, Mr. Obama noted that Dec. 15 had been the long-standing deadline for Americans who use the federal HealthCare.gov portal to be covered in time for Jan. 1.

People who hold coverage and do nothing will be re-enrolled in what they have, but their premiums may rise because of year-to-year changes in plans or their government subsidy. That’s why Mr. Obama and his top health officials are encouraging customers to revisit the website.

Several state-run exchanges are giving their residents extra days to enroll and be covered by the new year, but most customers must act by midnight Pacific time, or 3 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday.

Mr. Obama acknowledged that last year did not go as planned, as website woes nearly derailed his signature achievement and people were wary of the new options.

“Well first of all, the last time we spoke about this was a while back, and I think people were still uncertain about whether or not the Affordable Care Act was right for them,” he told Mr. Seacrest in the interview, which had been taped Friday.

The Obamacare marketplace had 6.7 million going into this round of sign-ups, but HHS estimates it can to hit 9.1 million for 2015 by retaining customers and adding millions more.

“Every survey shows that the vast majority are satisfied,” Mr. Obama said.

The law continues to poll poorly overall, however, and Republicans will try to chip away at the law when they hold majorities in Congress come January.

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