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Under fire, Obamacare going live - with glitches

WASHINGTON — Contentious from its conception, President Barack Obama's health care law has survived the Supreme Court, a battle for the White House and rounds of budget brinkmanship. Now comes the ultimate test: the verdict of the American people.

A government shutdown could dampen the rollout Tuesday as insurance markets open around the country. But it won't stop the main components of "Obamacare" from going live as scheduled, glitches and all. The biggest expansion of society's safety net since Medicare will be in the hands of consumers, and most of their concerns don't revolve around ideology and policy details.

People want to know if they can afford the premiums, if the coverage will be solid, where the bureaucratic pitfalls are and if new federal and state websites will really demystify shopping for health insurance. Full answers may take months.

Expect the rollout to get off to a slow start, with some bumps.

People who don't have access to job-based health insurance can start shopping right away for subsidized private policies. Or they can wait to sign up as late as Dec. 15 and still get coverage by Jan. 1. Many will probably want to see how it goes for the first wave of applicants before they jump in.


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