WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's plan to extend private health coverage to the uninsured entered a new uncertain phase on Saturday as U.S. government-backed online insurance marketplaces opened their 2015 plans to millions of potential enrollees. The HealthCare.gov website relaunched with little fanfare and appeared to work smoothly early on Saturday with no sign of the technical glitches that paralyzed the operation a year ago.
Officials, who have concentrated on producing a smooth experience for consumers, phased in the operation by allowing people to window shop for plans during the week leading up to Saturday. But the administration is also hedging its bets by acknowledging potential problems, such as outages, as traffic to the site swells. Officials greatly reduced their overall 2015 target to 9.1 million enrollees from 13 million.
A main question is whether HealthCare.gov can handle new enrollees and renewals simultaneously. There are also concerns that consumers in some of the 14 states that operate their own Obamacare marketplaces could have trouble again. Maryland, a state that was plagued by issues for months, is staggering its opening with enrollment beginning Nov. 19.
A new Republican majority in Congress in January is committed to repealing or dismantling the healthcare law. The U.S. Supreme Court will also hear a new legal challenge that could end federal subsidies for low-income families through a federal marketplace that spans three-dozen states.
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