Conservative radio host and Fox News pundit Sean Hannity appears to be under the impression that Healthcare.gov -- a government website that facilitates health insurance enrollment that recently went live -- is actually a “life or death” prerequisite for 9-1-1 and whose opening day glitches could be preventing people from accessing emergency care.
The Affordable Care Act's (ACA) insurance exchanges rolled out on October 1 providing an option for millions of uninsured Americans to obtain health care.
On the October 1 edition of his radio show, Hannity compared the ACA to the Ford Edsel -- a hightly-anticipated automobile that suffered poor sales and was ranked by Time magazine as one of the 50 worst cars of all time and “synonymous with failure.” Hannity then segued into reports of glitches hindering the ACA's new website, saying, “Think of how you'd feel today if you actually had a medical emergency -- had to go through this mess before they send an ambulance. At least the Ford Edsel wasn't a matter of life and death.”
Hannity appears to be implying that accessing healthcare.gov is somehow required before receiving emergency care. In fact, under a law enacted in 1986, virtually all emergency departments are required to render emergency medical assistance, regardless of insurance status -- that requirement also applies to most ambulances -- according to the National Institute of Health.
Hannity also omitted an important fact -- that under the Affordable Care Act, people cannot be turned down for insurance due to pre-existing conditions and the costs of preventative healthcare are covered by most plans. This means there will be far fewer individuals who must wait until their health condition has reached emergency levels before they can receive care.
Hannity also may have overhyped the significance of glitches in the healthcare.gov rollout. Many of the errors and delays appear to have been caused by high traffic -- an indication that the ACA's new state-level exchanges are incredibly popular. Despite right-wing hand-wringing about the new marketplaces, enrollment is beating expectations.