Obama Administration to Give Insurance-Enrollment Extension

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Move Is for Those Who Have Started Process But Have Gotten Stuck in Application Process

The Obama administration is extending the deadline to enroll for health insurance this year beyond Monday for certain people who have started but not completed their applications.

An official at the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed Tuesday that those who are partway through applying for insurance coverage through the new exchanges will be able to finalize their coverage after March 31 if they are stuck. The number of applicants that fit that description could be in the millions. The move was expected.

It wasn’t immediately clear how long the extension would last.

A handful of states that run their own exchanges have also decided to extend enrollment for those who haven’t finished their applications. One concern is the fact that users could flood the national and state exchanges in the final days before the deadline, hampering their ability to function.

“Open enrollment ends March 31. 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 enrollment—either online or over the phone,” said HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters.

HHS said it would allow individuals with special circumstances and complex cases to receive help completing the enrollment process beyond the March 31 deadline for most Americans to sign up.

The decision to allow people in the system to complete the sign-up process after a deadline mirrors a step taken by the administration in December. People who had begun the process by the middle of December were told they would likely be able to finish the sign-up process and still have insurance that took effect Jan. 1.

Insurers have been insistent that the 2014 enrollment period not be officially extended beyond March 31, amid fears that people would wait until they had an accident or illness to obtain coverage now that health plans can no longer bar them based on their medical condition.

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