Administration Extending Health Care Sign-ups
“We are experiencing a surge in demand and are making sure that we will be ready to help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollmenteither online or over the phone.” When the website, HealthCare.gov, was overwhelmed by people trying to enroll in late December to gain health coverage by Jan. 1, the administration enacted a similar stretch of the deadline for those who tried to enroll but did not make the deadline. This time, officials said they would loosen the deadline for those with “complex or extenuating” circumstances that keep them from fully enrolling by March 31, the last day of open enrollment, and the last day to buy health insurance to avoid paying a fine with 2014 taxes. STORY: States lagging on health care sign-ups vow to do better Officials expect a high volume of last-minute enrollees, and while they say the website can handle the numbers, they don’t want to penalize those who need extra help. Some households will need to file paper forms and complete paperwork over the phone, officials said. Officials recommend setting aside some time for enrollment to gather family information, investigate whether a doctor is within a plan’s network, and ensuring that those new to the insurance world understand basic terms like “deductible” and “premium,” which are explained at www.HealthCare.gov. As the deadline looms closer, HHS has sent out emails to everyone who has begun the process encouraging them to complete their forms. To complete enrollment, people must also send their first month’s premium payment to the insurer. In January, the administration encouraged insurers to backdate enrollment to when people completed their applications. So far, at least 5.2 million people have signed up for private plans through the exchanges, according to the government’s figures as of March 1. This week, Washington state announced that 12,000 people had enrolled in plans in one week four times their average enrollment.
Administration extending health care sign-ups
Obama administration extends health care enrollment deadline
The core of the problem has been the difficulty in building an online health insurance marketplace that syncs up healthy people 2020 with myriad state and federal databases. Early projections for those five states were to sign up a combined 800,000 Americans for private health insurance coverage by March 31, 11 percent of the Obama administration’s original target for national enrollment. Yet with just days to go before the six-month enrollment period ends, achieving 25 percent of that target would be considered a success. Overseers of Nevada Health Link have called that state’s program a “full failure” and a “catastrophe.” Some officials have suggested dumping Xerox, which was awarded a $75 million contract to develop the system. While Xerox remains on the job, a state board earlier this month approved up to $1.5 million to hire another tech firm, Deloitte Consulting, to assess the Xerox system and recommend fixes. Last month Nevada officials cut their target enrollment from 118,000 to 50,000 and conceded that meeting even the lower goal would be a challenge. That drew the ire of board members, who lashed out about the thousands of people who will remain uninsured after Monday’s deadline. “These are not numbers.
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But is the new option a gamble? That’s a matter of debate, not only among the politicians who are still arguing furiously over the law’s merits, but among economists and industry experts. “We don’t know what the future of exchange insurance will be,” said economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, a center-right public policy institute. Premiums should remain stable if enrollment picks up and broadens to include younger, healthier people. But if older, sicker people are the vast majority of customers, prices eventually could spike. For Mike Morucci, 50, the idea of leaving his information technology job websites and its health benefits is “terrifying,” he said. But he decided to take the plunge after reviewing the range of coverage available at different price points.
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