Monday, Dec. 23, is supposed to be the official deadline for enrolling in Obamacare for coverage that starts Jan. 1, but the Obama administration has built some wiggle room into that deadline.
The Washington Post first reported the change, which the the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services then effectively confirmed.
CMS explained that HealthCare.gov’s system had been programmed to accept applications through the end of the day Tuesday and have the coverage begin on Jan. 1. Officials said that the change had been made in anticipation of high traffic and other potential technical issues ahead of Monday’s deadline.
Julie Bataille, a CMS spokeswoman, insisted that Monday was still the final deadline, though the accompanying guidance effectively makes the new deadline Tuesday, as the Post had reported.
“We recognize that many have chosen to make their final decisions on today’s deadline and we are committed to making sure they can do so,” Bataille said in a statement. “Anticipating high demand and the fact that consumers may be enrolling from multiple time zones, we have taken steps to make sure that those who select a plan through tomorrow will get coverage for Jan 1.”
The Post had reported that the administration had made a change to HealthCare.gov’s backend that would automatically set people’s coverage to start on Jan. 1 if they enrolled by 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 24, effectively giving Americans an extra day to sign up for January coverage.
The newspaper cited “two individuals with knowledge of the switch.”
One source told the Post that the extension was intended to be a “buffer” in case heavy traffic affected the website’s performance on Monday. The sources said that the change was automatic and therefore couldn’t be accepted or declined by insurance companies.