The final day of March marked the most recent deadline to apply for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. Despite extreme criticism and a less than perfect rollout, about 7.1 million people successfully enrolled in private health insurance plans across the country via HealthCare.gov, according to the New York Times.
"Last night the first open enrollment period under this law came to an end, and despite several lost weeks out of the gate because of problems with the website, 7.1 million Americans have now signed up for private insurance plans through these marketplaces," President Barack Obama said during the Rose Garden ceremony Tuesday.
The Affordable Care Act, more popularly referred to as Obamacare, officially began six months ago with the launch of HealthCare.gov. The act has pushed for an equal playing field in terms of availability and pricing of quality healthcare.
"People should know that the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare is the same thing," said Danielle Corcione, president of the Ramapo College Democrats. "The best step for Ramapo students is to be familiar with their own insurance now because it will eventually change, whether it's because you've turned 21, or your parents change their job or you graduate."
HealthCare.gov, however, has been a work in progress-undergoing several changes and tremendous disapproval mainly due to technical issues that made the website difficult to use and understand.
These technical issues have not been completely resolved. The website crashed several times Monday night due to heavy traffic to the site and resulted in several people being unable to enroll.
"Truth is even more folks want to sign up so anybody who was stuck in line due to the huge surge in demand over the last few days can still go back and finish your enrollment," Obama said.
Christopher Gabbett, president of the Ramapo College Republicans, said that calling the 7.1 million enrollees a success is premature.
"Even if the number provided by the Obama administration is correct, they have yet to differentiate between those who have signed up and those who have actually paid into the new system," said Gabbett. "From most estimates that I have seen, the numbers that have actually paid into the system is less than 1 million. In their celebration of this achievement, the Obama administration likes to forget about the millions of people who have lost their health coverage as a direct result of this disaster of a law."
Supporters, however, seem to the number of enrollees as a step in the right direction.
"I definitely think it's an improvement-annually there's 45 million Americans uninsured, so 7 million people enrolling is definitely hopeful," Corcione said.
Corcione also noted that the program's previous troubles were attributed not only to technical difficulties, but also to lack of computer and Internet access in general. She pointed out that people who were uninsured might not have the resources to enroll even if they wanted to, affecting the overall success rate of the program.
The next period to apply for private health insurance through HealthCare.gov opens on Nov. 15., 2014 This time, it will be open for three months, closing on Feb. 15, 2015.