Obamacare Penalties, Sign-up Period Delayed Until End Of March As Technical Glitches, Federal Exchange Issues Confuse Applicants

on October 24 2013 8:48 AM
Obama 16Oct2013
President Barack Obama Reuters

The string of website glitches and other issues plaguing the new federal health exchange websites have prompted the White House to extend the period of time that Americans may go uninsured until March 31, 2014, at which point uninsured people would face a penalty.

The previous deadline was Jan. 1, 2014, but a series of issues relating to the health exchange Web portal, ongoing technological problems and the government shutdown hampered the Affordable Care Act rollout, creating widespread political pressure to delay the penalty onset. The penalty would be $95 or 1 percent of an individual’s income.

One problem has been the lag between signing up for a policy and the policy taking effect. The new health policies take effect on the first day of each month. A last-minute March 31 application, for example, might be processed by mid-April for coverage starting May 1, the New York Times said Thursday.

So, given the current delay in processing applications, in order to be covered by March 31, consumers would have to apply by Feb. 15. Similarly, people must apply by Dec. 15 if they want coverage that starts on Jan 1.

“The administration is working to align those policies and will issue guidance soon,” an administration official said Wednesday. “This guidance will ensure that if you sign up for insurance by the end of March, you will not face a penalty.”

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