Need More Time to Apply for Health Insurance? You Got It

Photo (cc) by Melissa Hillier

If you’ve procrastinated about signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, you can breathe a sigh, albeit a brief sigh, of relief.

The Obama administration is granting an extension of sorts, called a “special enrollment period,” to give some folks more time to sign up for health coverage. The administration released details about the extension on Wednesday.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • If you try to apply for health insurance on HealthCare.gov but you cannot complete your application by the end of the day on Monday, March 31 — the official deadline — you’ll be given more time to apply. How much more time has not been made clear.
  • If you’re applying with a paper application, you must have your application sent in by April 7.
  • As long as you make your first payment for the insurance plan you’ve picked by the insurance company’s deadline, your insurance should be in effect on May 1 — even if your application is completed after the March 31 deadline.

Government officials are apparently concerned about a last-minute rush of applications and whether they can be processed on March 31. (See: “10 Things You Need to Know About Obamacare’s March 31 Deadline.”)

According to The Associated Press, Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Aaron Albright said HealthCare.gov had more than 1 million visitors on Monday. And HealthCare.gov’s Twitter account reported that the site had 1.2 million visitors on Tuesday.

The website has a safeguard in place for high traffic, the AP said.

If the site starts seeing very high demand, Albright said technicians have built an advanced queuing system that creates a “waiting room” where people can hold for a short period of time. Consumers can also leave an email address and be invited back when the system is ready.

DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explained the extension to Michigan Fox 2:

“This is not an extension of open enrollment,” Sebelius told Michigan Fox 2. “It is just saying, like you do on Election Day, if you’re in line to vote, we want to make sure you vote.”

Qualifying for an extension sounds easy – simply check a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that you tried to enroll by March 31. Says The Washington Post:

This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth. The rules, which will apply to the federal exchanges operating in three dozen states, will essentially create a large loophole even as White House officials have repeatedly said that the March 31 deadline was firm. The extra time will not technically alter the deadline but will create a broad new category of people eligible for what’s known as a special enrollment period.

The move is being cheered by consumer advocates who want as many people as possible to enroll for health insurance, but it’s also come under harsh criticism from Republicans who oppose the law.

Several state-run health insurance exchanges are also taking similar steps, or considering taking action, CNBC said. Cover Oregon and Covered California have both agreed to extensions. Others, like Connecticut’s Access Health CT exchange, have remained firm on the March 31 deadline.

Are you insured yet? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station
The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station

Beware these cash-guzzling missteps when you stop at any gas station.

The Most Common Reason That Older Adults Fall Down
The Most Common Reason That Older Adults Fall Down

The good news: It’s possible to avoid potentially devastating falls.

Should You Hire a Service to Negotiate Your Cable and Other Bills?
Should You Hire a Service to Negotiate Your Cable and Other Bills?

Services like BillCutterz and BillFixers will negotiate your cable, internet, phone and other monthly bills in exchange for a share of the savings. I tried it: Here’s what happened.

11 Secret Uses for Everyday Items That Will Save You Money
11 Secret Uses for Everyday Items That Will Save You Money

These are simple solutions for life’s irritations.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It
15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It

Discover some must-have products on Amazon that you didn’t even know you were missing.

10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach
10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach

Does the pandemic have you reaching for bleach more than ever before? Learn the ins and outs of using this powerful disinfectant.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.