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White House Extends Enrollment Deadline Again

People who can prove that snags on Healthcare.gov site caused delays can still get coverage starting Jan.1

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Karen Pallarito

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 24, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- The Obama Administration on Tuesday once again extended the deadline for people to register for health insurance coverage on Healthcare.gov.

The new extension follows a 24-hour "grace period" that was granted on Monday -- beyond the original deadline of Monday 11:59 pm --for benefits that would kick in on Jan. 1.

In an blog Tuesday on the HealthCare.gov website, the Obama Administration said that people who could prove that trouble on the Healthcare.gov website had hindered them from signing up would be granted an extension.

"Even though we have passed the Dec. 23 enrollment deadline for coverage starting Jan. 1, we don't want you to miss out if you've been trying to enroll," the administration said in the blog.

"Sometimes despite your best efforts, you might have run into delays caused by heavy traffic to HealthCare.gov, maintenance periods, or other issues with our systems that prevented you from finishing the process on time. If this happened to you, don't worry, we still may be able to help you get covered as soon as Jan. 1," the message added.

The blog advised visitors: "Contact the Marketplace call center at 1-800-318-2596 (available 24/7; closed December 25). TTY: 1-855-889-4325. Tell our customer service representative that you've been trying to enroll and explain why you couldn't finish by the deadline. They can tell you what you can do to finish your enrollment and still get covered for 2014."

There was a record amount of traffic on Healthcare.gov on Monday, The New York Times reported, and health officials wanted to make sure that people who are looking for coverage can get it.

In most states, Monday, Dec. 23 had been the deadline for selecting a plan that would take effect on the first day of the new year.

"We would really encourage people to start now. Don't wait until the deadline to enroll," Cheryl Fish-Parcham, deputy director of health policy at Families USA in Washington, D.C., said last week.

People need to leave themselves enough time to gather the information they need to complete an insurance application, select a health plan and pay the premium by the health plan's deadline, she said.

The pre-Christmas race to buy health insurance is another consequence of the troubled launch of the Affordable Care Act's HealthCare.gov website and website difficulties in a number of state-run health insurance exchanges. Since the October launch of the health exchanges, sign-up and premium-payment deadlines have been extended to give people more time to enroll for coverage, but the new cut-offs come amid the holiday rush.

Many people aren't aware of the various deadlines under the law, sometimes called Obamacare. What's more, the deadlines may vary by state and by health insurer, health insurance agents and brokers said.

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