Affordable Care Act Fair Draws Floridians As Enrollmnent Deadline Looms
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
By Susan Cornwell
and Roberta Rampton


WASHINGTON -- For most Americans who don't have health insurance, Monday is the deadline to sign up for coverage starting on Jan. 1 under President Barack Obama's health care law.

For others, it's not a deadline.

There is a "hardship" exception for some that permits them not to sign up any kind of health insurance at all without facing a penalty -- the hardship being problems they've encountered with Obamacare and its malfunctioning website HealthCare.gov.

UPDATE: The Obama administration said Monday it has extended a deadline for health insurance under Obamacare, giving consumers shopping on HealthCare.gov an extra day, until Dec. 24, to pick plans to kick in for coverage beginning Jan. 1.

"The deadline for signing up for coverage to start Jan. 1 is today," said Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for the website.

"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," she said in a statement.

(Original story continues below)...

There will also be a "good faith exception" for others, according to a senior Obama administration official.

"We'll have a special enrollment period," the official said last week, for "all those who make a good faith effort to get enrolled by the deadline" but fail to do so.

The official didn't say how the government would determine whether or not the effort was made in good faith.

Still others may simply get a break from insurance companies, which the administration has urged to be flexible with people who miss the deadline.

Such is the uncertain state of "Obamacare" as it approaches what was originally supposed to be a defining moment --
a signup deadline that would provide the first real test of the viability of the health care program brought into law by the Affordable Care Act.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the original deadline for obtaining medical coverage was Dec. 15. That was extended to Dec. 23 after the federal government's website, HealthCare.gov, proved dysfunctional and sometimes non-functional.

The administration has reserved the right to change the deadline again "should exceptional circumstances pose barriers to consumers" enrolling on or before Monday.

Obama said on Friday that one million people had enrolled for new insurance plans under the law through HealthCare.gov, which serves 36 states, and 14 state-run marketplaces.

Many more enrollments are a major priority for Obama's signature health care reform, which officials are still hoping will help millions of uninsured and under-insured Americans finally to obtain medical coverage by the end of March.

Gaps in Coverage?

It is not known how many consumers may have no insurance coverage during periods of 2014 because they failed to sign up on HealthCare.gov by Monday.

Some of the 14 states running their own health care exchanges have extended their sign-up deadlines past Dec. 23.

On Thursday, the administration announced that if people's old insurance plans were canceled because of new standards under the law, they can claim a "hardship" exemption to the requirement that all Americans must have coverage by March 31 or face penalties that start at $95.

So some of these people may not sign up.

The Obama administration says it is trying to be flexible, but some Republican critics of the law say the frequent delays and changes have muddied the waters and confused people.

"With no clarity as to when people should sign up and who they should pay and when, it's a virtual certainty that many consumers will find themselves uncovered for a period of time through no fault of their own," Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, said last week.

Administration officials said Friday there are fewer than 500,000 people who have received cancellation notices from their insurance companies and have not yet found alternatives. Some were "auto-enrolled" in other plans by their insurance companies, the officials said.

The pace of sign-ups has picked up since October and November when technical problems crippled the HealthCare.gov website. Anyone who tried the website in October and November and became stuck has been getting attention from the administration.

Officials sent more than two million emails to people who could not advance through the website. They have also made more than 600,000 phone calls to consumers and mailed notices to hundreds of thousands of people, officials said.

"We are confident that we are doing everything we can so that individuals know what their options are to get coverage, whether it is at the marketplace or seeking it through the private insurers," said the senior official.


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41 Comments

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johnny18350

I can't wait to see the headlines in the next couple years. I bet they go something like this, Doctors refuse to accept obamacare plans due to patients not paying their share of the bills. Collection agents are the biggest industry in the U.S. collectiong on 7 million healthcare accounts. Courts backlogged from doctors sueing non paying patients. Or how about millions of refunds delayed until irs can collect on all the taxas owed by obamacare customers who owe back money from subsidies.

December 23 2013 at 11:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

Good night. I will pray for all of you.

December 23 2013 at 10:03 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

You Godless liberals sure get upset whenever God is mentioned.

December 23 2013 at 9:45 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

I will pray for all of you, especially the liberals.

December 23 2013 at 9:39 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

If you don't think God will punish this country for turning away from Him and murdering his unborn babies, you are very foolish.

December 23 2013 at 9:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

Obamacare may be a part of God's punishment for America turning away from Him. Whatever happens, He is in control.

December 23 2013 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

America is going down the tubes, but MERRY CHRISTMAS anyway.

December 23 2013 at 8:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Silence DoGood

An explanation of the cost structure of the ACA, for those who are interested. Good luck and merry Christmas!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7Y-5rjsaJY&src_vid=3h7bvBBVfPc&feature=iv&annotation_id=annotation_365071601

December 23 2013 at 7:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

Wait until the Obamaniacs identities are all stolen. There is no security on the Obamacare site.

December 23 2013 at 7:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
David

Obama does what he wants, and it is all illegal! Besides nobody in their right mind wants to sign up.

December 23 2013 at 7:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to David's comment
betty_brock

Liberal deadbeats aren't in their right mind.

December 23 2013 at 7:59 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to betty_brock's comment
betty_brock

He has a large following of liberal deadbeats.

December 23 2013 at 9:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down