The new public health insurance exchanges are still fighting technical glitches and system capacity limits today as they reach a major enrollment deadline.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently moved the enrollment deadline for people who want federal exchange coverage to start on Jan. 1 from Dec. 15 to Dec. 23 — today.
The Washington Post is reporting, based on accounts from anonymous sources, that HHS tried to help consumers cope with the heavy HealthCare.gov traffic over the weekend by setting the system to make midnight Tuesday — not today — the real deadline for enrolling in a plan that starts Jan. 1.
HHS officials were not immediately available to confirm the Post’s account.
If the story is true, the one-day deadline change represents just one of many recent federal exchange plan enrollment changes.
The original Dec. 15 date seemed to be the deadline for both choosing a plan and paying for a plan, and the new, Dec. 23 also seemed to be the deadline both for choosing a plan and paying for a plan.
HHS then said that the Dec. 23 deadline was simply the exchange plan selection deadline, and that consumers would have until Dec. 31 to pay for coverage. HHS said states with state-based exchanges could ask insurers to voluntarily extend the payment deadline for Jan. 1 coverage to Jan. 31.
Insurers announced last week that they had voluntarily agreed to give consumers who choose plans by Dec. 23 until Jan. 10 to pay for Jan. 1 coverage.
Managers of some of the state-based exchanges have also been changing plan selection and payment deadlines.