You Probably Missed The Latest ObamaCare Deadline Extension Announcement


Late on Christmas Eve, the Obama Administration extended the sign up period for insurance that would be effective January 1st yet again:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Tuesday that it would provide more time for people to complete their applications for health insurance if they could show that they missed the deadline because of problems with the federal health care website.

The move was the latest in a series of deadline changes, exemptions and clarifications that have confused insurers and many Americans and opened the administration to increasing criticism from Republicans who have opposed the Affordable Care Act from the start and have repeatedly tried to overturn it.

It was not clear on Tuesday how many people would be affected, or how consumers would prove that website errors had prevented them from signing up by the deadline on Tuesday night.

The announcement itself was vague, saying only that if website problems had prevented any consumers from enrolling, they might qualify for what the government has called “a special enrollment period.” The administration did not say how long that would last. Nor did it define what website errors might be involved.

Republicans said the announcement — coming a day after the federal website recorded more than two million visits — showed that President Obama was desperate to increase enrollment, widely seen as a measure of the success of the health care law.

For their part, administration officials said the move was a common-sense response to heavy traffic on the website, which they cited as evidence of a huge need for more affordable insurance. Some 48 million Americans are uninsured. Many could qualify for subsidized coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Tara McGuinness, a White House spokeswoman, said the administration was not providing “a blanket extension,” but was offering to provide “assistance to individuals on a case-by-case basis.”

And Kurt DelBene, the new troubleshooter for the site, said it was performing well. “With the highest volumes we have seen to date, response time is fast, and the error rate is low,” he said.

The move did not mollify insurers who have grown concerned as new problems have erupted since the rollout on Oct. 1 and are worried about how they will be able to provide coverage for everyone who wants it by Jan. 1, when that coverage is supposed to go into effect.

“The goal posts keep moving,” William G. Schiffbauer, a lawyer who represents insurance companies, said Tuesday evening. “That raises questions about whether insurers can collect premiums in a timely manner to pay claims from doctors and hospitals.”

“The latest step creates confusion for consumers and insurers,” he added.

It’s unclear exactly how the powers-that-be believe they’ll able to determine that someone who claims that they were unable to signup by Tuesday night due to website issues is actually telling the truth, just as its difficult to know how a person making such a claim would be able to prove the truth of their assertions. What will most likely end up happening, of course, is that they’re likely to treat anyone who calls a help center or tries to use the website between now and January 1st as being eligible for the extension. As noted, that’s not likely to please insurance companies that already report that they’re facing something administrative nightmares in trying to comply with the continual extensions of the filing deadline for January 1st eligibility.

In any case, this really doesn’t come as a surprise. Indeed, for the reasons I noted on Monday, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more extensions between now and January 1st.

FILED UNDER: Healthcare Policy, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. jib10 says:

    I can only speak to my experience with the WA state site. It went fine. I got in, bought my insurance, paid for it, got my receipt. I was worried with all the doomsters saying it was not working so I called my insurance company to confirm that they had me enrolled. Yes they do. I have even got one of my insurance cards already.

    Phone call took a long time because of the number of people calling but that was the insurance company, not the govt site. Other than that, it went fine.

    The roll out of the website, especially the fed one, has clearly gone poorly. But there are a lot of people who really, really want this to fail and I think, at least based on my direct experience, they are over-hyping the problems.

    What I tell people is that I have used the system and it worked for me. Most people will never use the system and almost everyone who is reporting or commenting on the system are not actually using the system. Wait and see where we are at in 6 months, how many people are signed up, how many insurance companies get their payments, how many people are using their insurance, how many people got their tax credits, how many Doctors got paid from the insurance.

    The whole system needs to work, not just the web site, but for me, right now, it is working.

  2. Gustopher says:

    Inconvenience insurance companies, or let people go without coverage?

    The only people who would be opposed to this extension are either extreme partisans, or the type of horrible people who want to run their local HOA to make sure the people down the street have no lawn ornaments that aren’t “classy”.

  3. stonetools says:

    Heh, this is almost too easy….
    So , the government extending their deadlines for the ACA is a sign of chaos and cause for concern, whereas UPS and FedEx’s failure to meet their deadlines just means that private companies can’t be expected to plan for for storms in December and a surge in demand around Christmastime….
    Do these insurance companies plan to turn down these new customers, because of the administrative headaches in signing them up?

    Thought not….

  4. edmondo says:

    William G. Schiffbauer, a lawyer who represents insurance companies, said Tuesday evening. “That raises questions about whether insurers can collect premiums in a timely manner …..

    See? It’s all about health care! (LMFAO)

  5. TarianinMO says:

    Got it. Insurance companies should go without getting paid.

  6. TarianinMO says:

    If everything actually went that well, I would think Obama would be calling you to be his personal spokesperson since apparently you’ve defied all odds at this point.

  7. TarianinMO says:

    As opposed to the 5 million people that are now without coverage. That might be an inconvenience for them.

  8. TarianinMO says:

    Yep, FedEx had over 3 years to plan to deliver packages. Oh, wait, that was Obamacare.