Under federal law, the date by which consumers must be signed up for some kind of health insurance coverage is less than two weeks away, but it seems that many Americans are still not signed up at all. As such, many states which have opted to run their own exchanges appear to now be considering extending that deadline so that more residents can sign up.
Currently, the states of Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington say that they plan to allow for these extensions, but only for consumers who were unable to sign up during the initial enrollment period, and only if granted such flexibility by the federal government, according to a report from Modern Healthcare. In addition, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius recently indicated that the federal government might make a similar move in the near future for residents of the 36 states where their elected officials chose not to run their own exchanges. In addition, it should be noted that in most cases, only consumers who have begun - but not completed - the sign-up process will be able to qualify for these extensions.
The problem may be more severe in some states than others, however, the report said. For instance, some 200,000 people have had difficulties in getting signed up for the exchanges, and as such the state will allow these people to sign up through June, as approved by the federal government, and is likewise seeking an additional extension beyond that date, which would allow people to enroll through the end up September.
How are other states handling it?
In addition, Maryland will allow anyone who registers as having gone through difficulties - through a state-run hotline - to sign up through the end May, while Oregon would like the federal government to allow it to extend its deadline to April 30, the report said. Washington state will allow such extensions on an individual basis, rather than all at once, as will Vermont. In Nevada, policymakers are still weighing how they will allow applicants to extend their sign-up periods most effectively.
It might behoove health insurance issuers to push for consumers to sign up for coverage because it will not only help these people avoid federal fines, but also to help companies' bottom lines ahead of the federally-mandated coverage deadline under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.