Mar. 31 - As the midnight deadline approached for those enrolling in Obamacare, there was a last-minute surge in signups.. and still many questions. Lily Jamali reports.
When the Affordable Care Act became law 4 years ago, people like Monica Barnes were the target. Barnes has never had health insurance - until now. SOUNDBITE: MONICA BARNES, NEWLY-INSURED AMERICAN, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Without insurance it's been a very rough thing because each visit I make I had to pay the full amount and if I have any emergencies or anything, I have to pay for visits." On Monday, the enrollment deadline for Obamacare, many like Barnes flocked to New York City's Bellevue Hospital looking for last-minute help. "What does this one ask for?" The surge in interest has prompted Bellevue administrator Toni Morton to keep financial counselors on standby in the lobby. SOUNDBITE: TONI MORTON, BELLEVUE HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR, (ENGLISH) SAYING The start up was a little slow but once March came in, we were off an running. SOUNDBITE: LILY JAMALI, REPORTING, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The White House is aiming to get 7 million people signed up for private health insurance this enrollment round, which started in the fall. Now, with a new grace period for people who at least start the process by March 31, they could come close to that target." The weekend saw a wave of activity across the U.S, like this enrollment drive in California... and this telethon in Texas. As the March 31 deadline passes, the debate has shifted from "how many" people are enrolling... to "who" has enrolled. Young Americans are widely seen as key to keeping the new online marketplaces viable for insurers. SEIU President Mary Kay Henry says the signs look promising: SOUNDBITE: MARY KAY HENRY, SEIU PRESIDENT, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We expected that young people would tune in the final weeks of the enrollment period and that's exactly what has happened. There's been a huge surge." Conservatives maintain the law won't insure as many of the nearly 50 million previously uninsured Americans.. as the Obama administration had promised. Paul Howard of the Manhattan Institute sayd the cost of health care may still be prohibitively high for some: SOUNDBITE, PAUL HOWARD, SENIOR FELLOW, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The biggest problem I think we're going to be wondering about for the next year or two is what's going to happen to rates in 2015 and then beyond. Insurers only had 3 months of claims data to start putting their rates for 2015. They have to submit that in May and June. They're not going to see a full year of rates until they're going into the 2016 premium period." And so despite the deadline, a final verdict on Obamacare could still be years away.