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HHS pushes Feb. 15 deadline to Feb. 22 for some

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is offering consumers affected by technical problems or mailing delays at least one week to complete the application process.

HHS is managing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange programs in some states and handling enrollment for some state-based exchanges.

The HHS open enrollment period started Nov. 15 and was supposed to end Sunday. But glitches plagued Saturday. managers now say in a blog entry aimed at exchange users that they can still get covered if they tell the exchange about their problems and complete the application process soon. HHS officials say the glitch extension will end Feb. 22.

Consumers who do not get minimum essential coverage (MEC) by Feb. 22 and do not qualify for a special enrollment period may not be able to buy any major medical coverage for 2015, and they could end up paying a penalty equal to 2 percent of income when they file their 2015 income taxes in 2016.

HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell has said that the Obama administration is thinking about finding a way to help consumers who learn about the 2015 PPACA individual mandate penalty while filing their 2014 taxes.

The blog has a comments section.

Regulators and insurers developed the open enrollment calendar system to keep consumers from waiting until they get sick to pay for coverage. Some commenters summarized that line of reasoning in their comments.

One commenter, DaronLady620, said, “The real problem is that for-profit insurers still control the process.”

Others complained about continuing problems with using and reaching call center representatives on the telephone.

Commenter RoseRed wrote, “I was on hold for 40 min and still no answer, or it hang ups, so I really was on hold for 60 minutes.”


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