December 24, 2013

White House extends health care deadline by one more day

The extension is given after at least 850,000 visits on the final day, the highest number the website has seen.

The Associated Press

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"I'm an Obamacare supporter, though I think it is full of problems," Eichenberger said. "I'd like to see the whole system streamlined to be more user-friendly. Keep the basic idea, but don't make me feel like I'm navigating a maze to get a simple checkup."

The government's original deadline already had been pushed back a week because of the website problems. The extra day will add to the already daunting administrative problems that insurance companies face, such as inaccuracies on applications, said industry consultant Robert Laszewski.

"Insurers would like to have two to three weeks to process applications. Now they're going to have a week, less one more day," he said. "When the day is done, it doesn't help."

The president himself signed up for coverage through the government site over the weekend — a purely symbolic move since he will continue to get health care through the military as commander in chief. He chose a less-expensive "bronze" plan.

Obama said on Friday that more than 1 million Americans had enrolled for coverage since Oct. 1. The administration's estimates call for 3.3 million to sign up by Dec. 31, and the target is 7 million by the end of March. After that, people who fail to buy coverage can face tax penalties.

Minnesota, one of the states running their own insurance exchanges, extended its Monday deadline to Dec. 31 amid problems with its website and extra-long hold times to reach its help center. Maryland pushed back its cutoff date to Dec. 27. New York extended its deadline to midnight Tuesday.

Nevada stuck to its Monday deadline, and enrollment counselors there reported a surge of interest.

"We have people lined up out our door. We still have walk-ins, people are asking for help. Our phones are ringing nonstop," said Andres Ramirez in Las Vegas.

In Connecticut, which also kept to a Monday deadline, Ronshelle McIntyre, a 41-year-old mother from New Britain, arrived at a state-run insurance store around 9:30 a.m., and by noontime, she was among about 40 people waiting to speak with a specialist. Some were told the wait could be two hours or more.

"I don't mind," said the mother of three. "For health insurance, I think all it's going to cost me is a little bit of time and patience to get it plugged up, you know?"

 

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