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The initial deadline to obtain health insurance through the federal insurance exchange, HealthCare.gov, has been extended by 48 hours.
The Obama administration announced late Tuesday that people now have today and Thursday to enroll in or change plans for coverage that would start on Jan. 1, the Washington Post reports.
A few states that operate their own equivalent of the federal insurance exchange, including California and New York, have also announced extensions of their deadlines, according to the Post.
NBC News reports that Kevin Counihan, chief executive of the federal government’s health insurance marketplace, explained during the announcement late Tuesday:
“Because of the unprecedented demand and volume of consumers contacting our call center or visiting HealthCare.gov, we are extending the deadline to sign up for Jan. 1 coverage until 11:59 p.m. PST Dec. 17.
“Hundreds of thousands have already selected plans over the last two days, and approximately 1 million consumers have left their contact information to hold their place in line. …
“Our goal is to provide access to affordable coverage, and the additional 48 hours will give customers an opportunity to come back and complete their enrollment for January 1 coverage.”
The general deadline for the current open enrollment period to have coverage for 2016 remains Jan. 31, however.
People who can afford insurance but don’t buy it by Jan. 31 face a steep fine unless they fall into specific categories that leave them exempt from the rule.
Residents of most states can obtain private insurance coverage directly through HealthCare.gov, which was created as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal legislation also referred to as “Obamacare.” Residents of some states use state equivalents of the federal insurance exchange.
For more information, check out “Obamacare Open Enrollment Is Coming: 5 Things You Need to Know.”
Will you take advantage of extended deadlines for health insurance for the new year? Let us know below or on Facebook.