The Obama administration announced it will grant extra time to Americans who say they tried, but were unable to enroll in a health plan through the federal health insurance Marketplace by the March 31 deadline.
Reported March 25 by the Washington Post, federal officials confirmed that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday March 31, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension. An official announcement is expected today.
Under the new extension, people will be able to qualify for an enrollment extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. The extensions are based on the honor system.
The extension applies to people living in states using the federal Marketplace (look up your state Marketplace here).
The extra time will not technically alter the deadline but will create a broad new category of people eligible for what’s known as a special enrollment period.
According to the Washington Post, administration officials said the accommodation is an attempt to prepare for a possible surge of people trying to sign up in the final days before the March 31 deadline. A last minute surge could mean people unable to get through the enrollment system in time.
Although no one will be asked why they need an extension, the idea is to help people whose applications have been held up because of website technical problems, or who haven’t been able to get the system to calculate premium tax credits to help them pay for coverage.
Starting in mid-April, people will no longer be able to get extensions through HealthCare.gov. After that, consumers will be able to request one through one of the federally sponsored call centers nationwide. At that point, the grounds for an extension will become narrower, matching rules for special enrollment periods that have existed for the past few months. Those include people who have a new baby, are getting a divorce, lose a job with health insurance or had a technical problem signing up for coverage through HealthCare.gov.
According to the Washington Post, the new rules are similar to steps being taken, or at least contemplated, by some of the 14 states that are running their own health insurance Marketplaces.
Source: Washington Post
Confused with the deadlines to buy health insurance coverage? See this FAQ: What If I Don't Have Health Insurance By March 31?
What do you think of the latest extension? Questions? Leave a comment below.
Image source: Healthcare.gov