Managers of HealthCare.gov today bent their “no enrollment deadline extensions” rule, by letting consumers get coverage through the regular 2018 open enrollment period process as long as they have an application started by midnight tonight.
HealthCare.gov managers have also wiggled the deadline by defining “midnight tonight” to mean midnight Pacific time, or 3 a.m. Eastern time.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that runs HealthCare.gov, has offered similar deadline leniency for consumers “already in line” for coverage in previous years.
Drafters of the Affordable Care Act created the public exchange system to provide an online supermarket for health coverage.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the parent of CMS, set up HealthCare.gov to provide exchange services for residents of states that were unwilling or unable to run their own exchange programs.
The exchange system came to life in October 2013, with the first coverage sold taking effect Jan. 1, 2014.
In the past few years, the open enrollment period, or time when people can buy individual major medical coverage without having a special reason to be shopping for coverage, ran from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31 in most of the country.