POLITICS

HealthCare.gov Has 'Bumpy Launch,' But Many Find Obamacare Site Usable: Poll

10/21/2013 04:32 pm ET | Updated Oct 22, 2013

Americans' first impression of the new online health insurance exchanges is "a bumpy launch," according to a Pew Research poll released Monday, the same day President Obama acknowledged the widespread technical problems with the rollout of HealthCare.gov since Oct.1.

Yet, while many were aware of the website's problems, the 1 in 7 Americans who have visited the site largely found it usable, according to the survey, conducted earlier this month.

A near-majority of 49 percent held the impression that the exchanges had not been working well, while just 29 percent thought they were working well, and another 25 percent weren't sure.

Fourteen percent of Americans told Pew that they've already visited a health care exchange. Most weren't actively shopping -- twice as many visitors to the site said they just wanted to learn about the exchanges, and 70 percent who visited are currently insured. Just 4 percent of all Americans said they visited the site with an eye toward finding an option for their family.

Those who did visit the site were about as equally likely as those who didn't to feel the exchanges weren't working well on the whole, even if they didn't experience any usage issues themselves. Personally, however, they reported a generally positive experience, with 56 percent saying the exchange website was very easy or fairly easy to use, compared to 40 percent who found it difficult.

Those numbers come with some caveats -- for instance, many of those users who reported a positive experience did not actually try to sign up for insurance, while others visited state-run health exchanges that were largely spared the issues of the national rollout.

A Washington Post/ABC poll also released Monday found that 56 percent of Americans say problems with the website are part of a broader problem with the law's implementation, while 40 percent see them as isolated incidents.

The website's launch has had little effect, either positive or negative, on overall approval for the health care law that created it. The Post/ABC poll found that 46 percent of Americans support the Affordable Care Act, a slight rise from mid-September.

In Pew's most recent poll, 41 percent approved of the law and 52 percent disapproved, nearly unchanged from a survey last month. Awareness of the health exchanges' existence did rise significantly, from 51 percent last month to 65 percent currently.

The Pew Research poll surveyed 1,504 Americans between Oct. 9 and Oct. 13, while the Post/ABC poll surveyed 1,002 Americans between Oct. 17 and Oct. 20, both using live telephone interviews.

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