With two days left to buy health insurance through federal or state exchanges for the year 2015, government officials and health insurance companies are making a final push to encourage those who have not signed up to do so before the Feb. 15 deadline. President Barack Obama promoted signing up for health insurance in a goofy video on BuzzFeed that went viral, “Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About.” Through blog posts and on Twitter, the Department of Health and Human Services posted reminders that the deadline to “#GetCovered" is Sunday.
“Consumers should consider Feb. 15 as their last opportunity to get coverage,” Andrew Slavitt, principal deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said on Wednesday. He added that signups had increased during the past week, the last week to sign up for coverage, with traffic to the HealthCare.gov, the website for signing up, 58 percent higher on Wednesday than the previous week. Calls to the hotline were up 37 percent, he said.
In subway advertisements in NYC, ads from health insurance companies remind riders that if they miss the Feb. 15 train they may not be able to catch another for months. The next open enrollment period to buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges will begin in October. Americans who do not meet standards for minimum health insurance coverage will have to pay a penalty when filing their income taxes, a penalty that will increase every year.
As of January 16, 7.1 million people had bought or been automatically enrolled in plans through HealthCare.Gov and 2.4 million had signed up through state exchanges. These numbers beat the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) goal of enrolling 9.1 million people through private health care exchanges in 2015, although the Congressional Budget Office had predicted that 12 million would enroll during in 2015.
In certain states, numbers are on the low side of expectations. California has reported a deficit of 400,000 enrollees, compared to its goal of getting 1.7 million people to sign up for private health insurance. Washington state had aimed at enrolling 213,000 during the current enrollment period, but at the end of January, it reported that two-thirds of that, 132,000 people, had purchased health insurance through the state’s exchange. However, almost 500,000 people in the state had signed up for Medicaid by that time.