By Justin Sink - 03/21/14 11:47 AM EDT
Vice President Biden told healthcare workers that "patience and empathy" are required to deal with frustrated ObamaCare enrollees and that the president demonstrated saint-like levels of both during the rollout.
Speaking to a conference of community health centers in New York, Biden conceded that enrolling in ObamaCare could be "tedious," and early problems with HealthCare.gov worsened the problem.
"The president and I were as frustrated as anyone you ever knew," Biden said.
But the vice president pressed navigators helping individuals through the enrollment process to reassure those purchasing insurance that "there's no reason to be embarrassed that it's complicated."
"You look these people in the eye. And the first thing you do is, you calm them down," Biden advised.
"How many people you'd spoken to you can tell by the look on their face they're almost embarrassed to ask you the questions?" Biden asked. "Because they don't want to feel stupid. … You dispel their fears; you put them at ease; and you walk them through the process."
Biden said it would be foolish to think enrolling "would not be difficult for people who never, ever, ever had insurance."
"Anybody ever thought this was going to be easy never, ever had insurance," Biden said. "Seriously. Assume you're a very wealthy person; you can buy whatever insurance you want. It's a complicated business. It's a complicated business. It doesn't matter whether you have a GED or a Ph.D."
The vice president's comments came amid a last-ditch push by the administration to enroll uninsured Americans before the March 31 open enrollment deadline.
On Thursday, President Obama pitched the law during appearances on "Ellen" and ESPN Radio. The administration also recruited athletes, including Tony Hawk, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, and David Ortiz, to promote the law on their Twitter accounts.
The Department of Health and Human Services said earlier this week that more than 5 million individuals had enrolled through federal and state exchanges.