The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is extending the open enrollment deadline in certain cases.
JP Wieske, spokesman for the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, said “functionally, it’s an extension of the time frames.”
“(Enrollment) is closed on the 31st, but if you started an application, you have some extra time to get that application finished,” he said. “I think it’s an indication that this process and this rollout hasn’t worked as well as anyone has hoped. We’re happy that consumers can get some more time to deal with this going forward.”
Claire Smith, communications specialist for the state Department of Health Services (DHS), said this extension will benefit consumers.
“We believe the federal government’s flexibility with the deadline is the right thing to do,” said Smith. “This allows consumers who were negatively affected by problems enrolling in a plan through HealthCare.gov or through the call center more time to successfully complete their applications and purchase private health insurance.”
Wieske said this is good news for consumers who are still running into problems purchasing insurance through HealthCare.gov.
“The good news for consumers is that if they’re running into problems, it looks like they’re going to have a little bit more time to finish up their process,” he said. “That’s the main message. This process hasn’t been smooth for anybody. It’s important to remember for all of these consumers that once everything is closed down (for open enrollment), it’s unlikely they’ll have an opportunity to sign back up unless there’s a special enrollment period.”
Wieske said these special enrollment periods can apply to life events such as a move, death, or loss of employer coverage.
The open enrollment period ends March 31. After that, said Wieske, “There may not be an opportunity to buy coverage on the individual market until November.”