Politics

Obamacare Deadline Softened As Americans Rush to Sign Up

| by Allison Geller

While Obamacare sign-ups increased this week leading up to the deadline, the numbers still fall short of the administration’s expectations. After extending the deadline once, officials are now allowing Americans who had trouble signing up to appeal in hopes of increasing coverage by Jan. 1.

Early numbers indicate a surge in sign-ups in the final days before the Christmas Day deadline. Increased website and phone traffic Monday made the HealthCare.gov site run slower and left insurance buyers on hold for long stretches as they rushed to sign up for policies.

Even so, California, Washington, and New York reported a flood of sign-ups on Monday, which had slightly abated Tuesday. No other states have yet released their data.

Americans can start filing appeals Thursday if glitches in the website prevented them from signing up, the Obama administration reported.

[W]e still may be able to help you get covered as soon as January 1," federal health officials said Tuesday.

Different state deadlines for health insurance exchanges have created a “patchwork” of deadlines for first payments, a determining step in receiving healthcare coverage. Many Americans are having trouble keeping track of when they need to sign up and send out their first check.

Many states (Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York) have a Jan. 10 deadline for the first month’s premium, and some (Maryland, Oregon and Washington) have a Jan. 15 deadline. The last day to pay in California and Rhode Island is Jan. 6, and in Vermont, Jan. 7. In Idaho and D.C. the deadline depends on the insurer, adding a further layer of confusion.  

One million people have signed up for Obamacare, up from 365,000 at the end of November, the president said his an end-of-year address Friday. Millions more sign-ups are needed to reach the projected figure of 7 million, and to help mitigate high premiums for people with medical conditions.

Sources: CNN, Washington Post, New York Post, FOX News