The president talks up the health care overhaul at Tuesday's press conference
If you're one of the millions of people confused about Obamacare, the president took a few minutes on Tuesday to reiterate his main messages about the federal health law.
"For the 85 to 90 percent of Americans who already have health insurance, they're already experiencing most of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act even if they don't know it," the president said.
He called insurance "stronger, better, more secure," for people than before the law's passage. "Full stop. That's it. Now they don't have to worry about anything else."
President Obama specifically mentioned three benefits of the ACA already in place:
- Children can stay on their parents' plan until age 26
- Your insurance company cannot drop you if you get sick
- You get free preventive care with no co-pay and no deductible (including many cancer screening tests)
The law also has banned lifetime caps on coverage. For people who have employer-based insurance or Medicare, most of the changes required by the law are already in place.
For people who do not have insurance -- or who buy insurance for themselves or their families -- "implementation issues" remain, the president said.
"... What we're doing is we're setting up a pool so that they can all pool together and get a better deal from insurance companies," the president said. "And those who can't afford it, we're going to provide them with some subsidies. That's it. I mean, that's what's left to implement because the other stuff's been implemented, and it's working fine."
But the challenge in setting up that system is "still a big complicated piece of business," he acknowledged.
A big complicated piece of business indeed.
It's been three years since California became the first state in the country to pass legislation to set up a marketplace, now called Covered California. Covered California has been moving full steam ahead, but the clock is ticking down rapidly to Oct.1 when the online marketplace must open for people to begin shopping for insurance. Coverage will start on Jan. 1, 2014.
"Glitches and bumps" ahead
The president was clear there's still a long ahead. "And the last point I'll make," he said, "even if we do everything perfectly, there'll still be, you know, glitches and bumps, and there'll be stories that can be written that says, oh, look, this thing's, you know, not working the way it's supposed to, and this happened and that happened. And that's pretty much true of every government program that's ever been set up."
The president's remarks came on the same day that a new poll showed some troubling gaps in the public's understanding of the law.
More than 40 percent of Americans are unaware that the ACA is still the "law of the land," according to the poll conducted by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation. And just under half of Americans say they so not understand how the law will affect themselves or their families.