Short Takes On News & Events

Obamacare Deadline For Jan. 1 Coverage Extended One Week

By Mary Agnes Carey

November 22nd, 2013, 4:08 PM

Consumers will have an extra week — until Dec. 23 – to enroll in health insurance coverage that begins Jan. 1, Obama administration officials said Friday.

Millions of consumers have been frustrated by their inability to sign up for coverage through, the federal website for residents of 36 states, which went public Oct. 1.  While the administration has said the site will work smoothly for most customers by Nov. 30, some advocates had been concerned that consumers still might not have enough time to sign up for coverage that would take effect Jan. 1. The previous deadline was Dec. 15.

In a call with reporters, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Communications Director Julie Bataille said the extension would apply only for consumers seeking coverage effective Jan. 1. In future months, consumers would have to enroll by the 15th of the month for coverage to begin on the 1st of the following month. Open enrollment continues until March 31.

Bataille said the date change was done “in consultation with” insurers.

Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, said the deadline extension “makes it more challenging to process enrollments in time for coverage to begin on Jan. 1. Ultimately, it will depend on how many people enroll in those last few days.  It is also important to keep in mind that consumers need to pay their first month’s premium before their coverage can begin.”

Consumers have until Dec. 31 to pay for health insurance that begins Jan. 1, Bataille said.

Jeffrey Zients, the former Obama budget official who is overseeing repairs to, stood by the pledge he made late last month that for most visitors, the website would work smoothly by Nov. 30, which is just one week away.

“The system will not work perfectly but it will operate smoothly for the vast majority of users,” he said.

Fixes include a new feature that sends consumers an email notification when spikes in website demand create access issues. Te emails indicate “a better time to come back to the site,” Zients said. By month’s end, he said the site should be able to accommodate up to 50,000 users at any one time — as originally envisioned — and 800,000 each day, he said.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind here that this is not a simple website,” he said. “The system needs to process the millions upon millions of unique circumstances that consumers present. It needs to determine eligibility for hundreds of state and county programs and all their permutations. And it needs to factor in subsidy levels based on family size, income and plan selection.”

To accommodate repair work, will down for maintenance from 9 p.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 23 through 9 a.m. EST Sunday, Nov. 24, Bataille said.

Friday’s announcement giving more time for consumers to enroll in health plans follows the administration announcement late Thursday that it is pushing back the start of health law’s 2014 enrollment period next year to Nov. 15 from Oct. 15.

“The reason for doing that is to make sure the [insurers] have the benefit of more time to evaluate their experience from this year and take that into account as they determine what would be necessary for their 2015 rates,” Bataille said. The delay also places the enrollment period beyond the 2014 congressional elections.

4 Responses to “Obamacare Deadline For Jan. 1 Coverage Extended One Week”

  1. R E M says:

    I am losing my health insurance on Dec 15 2013.

    The Texas Health Insurance Pool – Blue Cross will be “cancelled” on Jan 1 2014.

    I have paid on my health insurance for 40+ years. I paid the money every month for 40+ years. That’s why I had health insurance – if something happens.

    Now I need the health insurance. I had a pacemaker in my heart to stay alive. I have other serious heart problems. With out heart doctors, medications and treatments I will be dead it a month or two. With all the hospitals and doctors I need financial help – bad.

    On Oct I was ready. Sign me up. Enroll me. The internet on the didn’t work on Oct1. It didn’t work on Oct 2, and in Oct 3 and in Oct 4 . . . On Nov 20 it still doesn’t work.

    I did get into the phone on the Healthcare. I am now enrolled. Now I need insurance.

    The phone on the Healthcare says I can’t buy insurance until a letter, in writing, showing that I am enrolled. The man from the Healthcare phone says the letter takes three weeks. That would be Dec 15. Too late to get insurance for this year.

    Without the health insurance I will be dead in two months. That simple.

    Look at this (next page) from the official Texas Health Insurance Pool. Its says that:

    “. . . you need to complete enrollment and PAY YOUR FIRST PREMIUM by December 15, 2013″. (Or no insurance for another year.

  2. I consider something really special in this website .

  3. The information in this article it states “Consumers have until Dec. 31 to pay for health insurance that begins Jan. 1, Bataille said” Now on, it says consumers have until December 23rd to pay the first payment. What is the truth to tell the public!? I am sincerely asking, and I hope someone that knows the official answer could respond. Many thanks in advance!

  4. Lynn Hale says:

    Yes, it was extended, but you also have to have made your first premium payment before January 1, 2014. Contact us. 855-404-7488 and ask for The Health Insurance Whisperer.