MISSOURICITY, Texas -- If Obamacare had a cheerleading squad, Jennie Johnson could lead the team.
She just flat gushes about the new health insurance law, raving about the advantages of expanding medical care to the uninsured. Her bubbly personality boils over when she tells the history of health insurance initiatives proposed by presidents for the last century.
I have been singing the praises of public health care before it even had a name, she says.
On the morning the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces opened, Johnson woke up early, fired up her computer and logged onto the government website the instant it was scheduled to go live.
I wanted to be number one, Johnson said. I wanted to be the very first person in there.
She didn't get very far. Like countless other Americans -- countless because the Obama Administration won't reveal the potentially embarassing statistics -- Johnson couldn't crack into the federal government's buggy health insurance website.
I will not lie and say that I was not disappointed, Johnson said.
Johnson's a retired postal worker who now does consulting work out of her home, mostly writing grant proposals for non-profits. Nowadays, she regrets rejecting a chance to buy health insurance when she retired from the government payroll. After that, she shopped around for health insurance, but discovered even the cheapest policy cost more than an expensive car payment. So she went uninsured. Only later did she discover that was a bad decision, after she took a tumble off a bicycle, broke her arm and spent days trying to find treatment without insurance.
On the morning the website appeared, KHOU 11 News broadcast live from the office of her Missouri City home. Even though she couldn't get into the website, she remained an enthusiastic supporter of the new health care law. Three weeks later, we dropped by again to watch as she tried again.
I have no intentions of giving up, because it's my health care and I want it, Johnson said. So let's see if we can get this going on again.
Once again, she filled out the basic information requested by the website. Once again, she ended up with a notice that the site wasn't working.
This time, she decided to telephone in. An operator asked her a series of questions, taking her application by phone. But Johnson could only go through the first stage of the process, applying for approval that would certify she's eligible for coverage under the program.
In other words, she couldn't actually buy her insurance by phone. So Johnson decided to just wait until the website works.
It's just a matter of being patient, Johnson said. I've been patient all these years to get it to this point. So I can be patient to complete it.