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A Complex Website, a Cautious Government: Why New Obamacare Subsidies Will Roll Out Slowly

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The new stimulus bill made tens of millions of Americans eligible for new health insurance subsidies . But many will have to wait to get help: It will probably take a year for the full emergency aid to reach people, because of website complications and other logistical problems.

President Biden has promoted the subsidies as fulfilling his campaign promise to shore up the Affordable Care Act. And for many uninsured Americans, the new program will offer free or inexpensive health plans that were previously unaffordable.

But the health law’s complex structure makes it hard to retool insurance subsidies, let alone create a new program for the unemployed. The systems that distribute the benefits depend on government coders who update websites, and marketers who help people understand the new programs and jump through various administrative hoops to collect them.

“I don’t think there is enough Xanax out there for this,” said Jodi Ray, project director at Florida Covering Kids and Families, which manages the state’s health law outreach efforts.

Memories of Healthcare.gov’s notoriously bumpy 2013 rollout still linger in the minds of those overseeing the new update. The debacle quickly became a punchline for late-night television hosts, and a political liability for an already […]

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