Deadline Nears For Enrollment In Affordable Health Care Act Plans
Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesHealth insurance shoppers sign up for policies from an insurance agent at a mall in Miami.
By Alex Wayne

Americans will get more time to enroll in Obamacare insurance plans if they started the process but were unable to complete it before the March 31 deadline.

"If consumers are in line on the 31st and can't finish, we won't shut the door on them," said Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, in an email Tuesday. Under the health care law, consumers who aren't insured by the end of March may have had to pay a penalty of as much as 1 percent of their income.

A day earlier, officials said the federal exchange's website, HealthCare.gov, had more than 1.1 million visitors, the second most ever. State exchanges also were busy with Washington state enrolling 12,000 people last week while almost 1,200 signed up Tuesday in Connecticut, officials said.

"The expected surge in last-minute enrollments has begun," said Richard Onizuka, the chief executive officer for the Olympia-based Washington Health Benefit Exchange, in a statement.

About 5 million people enrolled in private plans through March 17 using government health exchanges created by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration has said. With a last-minute surge, the U.S. effort may meet or exceed 6 million, the most recent estimate of the Congressional Budget Office and a symbolic goal for President Barack Obama, who faces continuing criticism from political foes that the law is not viable.

Obama administration officials were deployed across the country over the last month to help push enrollment in advance of the deadline.

Sebelius Visit

Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. health secretary, visited Montclair State University in New Jersey to observe local enrollment efforts there, while Obama's senior adviser Valerie Jarrett met with local officials in Los Angeles at an event at a community health clinic,
according to a White House statement.

At the same time, Republicans have said the Obama administration is over-reporting the number of people who have enrolled because they don't yet know how many Americans have paid for coverage. Customers can't complete enrollment until they pay their first premium to insurers.

Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee said Tuesday in a letter to Sebelius that administration regulatory guidance to insurers shows "there is specific information about who has paid their premium" collected by the government. They asked her to provide it "immediately."

The health care law seeks to cover many of the nation's 48 million uninsured people, either through private plans sold on the exchanges -- often with the help of government subsidies to reduce premiums -- or expanded Medicaid programs in about half the states.

Activity Surge

"We are thrilled to see a surge of activity, with near-record levels of traffic on healthCare.gov in recent days," Peters, the HHS spokeswoman, said. "Our systems are ready to handle these high volumes in the remaining six days before the deadline."

Peters said the government won't know how many people paid their first premium, completing their enrollments, until contractors finish building an automated system allowing insurers to exchange the information with the government. Until then, the data "is neither final nor complete," she said.

"When we have accurate and reliable data regarding premium payments, we will make the information available," Peters said.

Kevin Counihan, chief executive officer of Connecticut's exchange, said on Twitter that more than 4,000 people had signed up Tuesday for private health plans and Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor.

The website turnout in Washington state was four times the weekly enrollment average, the group running the online exchange said in a statement. Since Oct. 1, more than 125,000 state residents have enrolled in private health plans through the exchange, according to the statement.


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201 Comments

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loustamm

Am I missing something? 371.6 Million people in the USA, 7 Million people is not even 1% of the population. These are not numbers to brag about.

March 29 2014 at 7:23 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to loustamm's comment
jj2301

I hate Obamacare as much as anyone, but 7M is about 1.88% of 371M.

That said, the original numbers bandied about by this administration were "48M without insurance". After it was noted that this number included illegal aliens, it was revised down to around "32M without insurance". So, here we have a program that's already wasted about a trillion dollars, has only managed to "insure" 7M people - and poorly at that. The CBO estimates that after the other shoe has dropped, 25M+ will still be left out in the cold.

The only thing this mess of a program did was the answer the question: "How do we piss away a trillion dollars and accomplish almost nothing?".

April 01 2014 at 1:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
islandtelecom

MUST-SEE Jon Stewart: Obamacare opponents "lie like motherf***ers"
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/11/06/1253488/-MUST-SEE-Jon-Stewart-Obamacare-opponents-lie-like-motherf-ers?detail=email

March 28 2014 at 7:08 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
jsinvent

If you don't pay your obamacare payments the IRS sells your house at Auction what a nice party Obama and the Dems. 6 million lost their healthcare due to obamacare and only 2 million paid obamacare payments so far mostly old peoiple that already had healthcare and were fooled by the AARP ads.

Put a fork in it the young that was suppose to pay for everything didn't buy into the lie.

March 27 2014 at 4:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
zorcof

And i'm sure at the end of the 2 week extension there will be exactly 7 million people signed up. How convenient. LOL

March 27 2014 at 3:23 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to zorcof's comment
jj2301

Yeah! As of today, "6 million" have "enrolled". Per Kathleen Sebelius, you're not enrolled until you pay. When asked how many have paid, the WH spokesman couldn't answer and said that their number was based upon an assumption that those who had selected a plan had enrolled.

In other words: We don't really know and we're not going to try and prove it, but we're asserting 6M.

As if this administration's numbers *haven't* been quietly revised downward 2 months hence more than a few times.

March 27 2014 at 5:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jharri1234

What a jerk.......... joke .......... Obamacareless.

March 27 2014 at 3:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
geocur3971

Quite the contrary, this is most definitely NOT an, 'Extension'; it is simply making official the fact that those already in process of enrolling will not be arbitrarily cut off as of midnight, 30 March.

BUT, what's wrong here? Does this mean that, should I purchase a new car in, say, December, I should be facing some kind of cut-off by Homeowners'? What is this deadline to get health insurance all about? S'pose my son 'comes of age', -- ages out of family coverage -- next June. Should he then be refused the privilege of health insurance because it it's past 3/30.'14?

March 27 2014 at 3:14 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to geocur3971's comment
jj2301

It's you and the representatives who think like you who created the law; we're just complaining because:

1) You don't abide by it as written
2) You only assert that it's the law when it suits your position

People like me want to repeal it. I get to pay for it, so you can expect that I'm going to fight it from now until I breathe my last breath.

March 27 2014 at 3:32 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
TINKDAY

heath care in this country is a cruel joke and yes all of you who hold public jobs will be forced to geet your own health care, but not the politicians. Everyone that is so unhappy in this country with our politicians needs to put that to good use and really make changes this country really needs, get rid of every democrat and republican that holds a political office in this country, only than will we be able to deal with the self serving pocket linning corruption that is destroying this country, to much of that is running our government, the banks , wall street and to many of our corporations, especially our insurance industry.

March 27 2014 at 2:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Aaron

But wait, what's her name said specifically that they were NOT going to delay it, that there would be NO extension...hmm, more lies...to be expected from this regime. That's all they know how to do

for the non-believer's...heres the video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F98lPe-H7ms

March 27 2014 at 2:49 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Doug

Obama's marxist government in action. He want's it to fail so they can go to a single pay socialized medicine.

March 27 2014 at 2:23 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Sire

Very cool. Thanks Mr President for letting me get healthcare.

March 27 2014 at 2:23 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Sire's comment
jj2301

You should thank the people who are subsidizing your premiums, not the President.

March 27 2014 at 2:31 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Brian Workman

For NO $$$$$$$$$$ I'll bet!? You should be thanking ME for paying your Health Cost l?!

March 27 2014 at 2:36 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply