ACA Signups Extended

The midnight hour has come and gone for 2015 Affordable Care Act (ACA) signup. But due to technical problems with its website HealthCare.gov, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the US Health and Human Services Department (HHS) today announced a week-long extension for enrollment. Most states have also issued extensions on their state-run signup sites, citing both extreme weather and high traffic volume on their websites.

Due to technical problems with its website HealthCare.gov, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the US Health and Human Services Department (HHS) today announced a week-long extension for signing up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Most states have also issued extensions on their state-run signup sites, due both to extreme weather and high traffic volume on their websites.

The federal signup deadline was originally set for midnight, Feb. 15.

According to Charles Gaba, a data analyst who runs a blog site called www.ACASignups.net 10.5 million people have enrolled via Healthcare.gov, as of Feb. 15, with a figure ihe expects to reach 11.9 million when those who started the process before midnight are able to complete it. With the extensions, Gaba predicts a total signup of 12.5 million by the end of the month.

A major problem for the federal HealthCare.gov site arose Feb. 14 when the site lost its income-verification capability for 9 hours. That added to long call center delays consumers were already experiencing.

“Certain circumstances across consumer enrollment channels (such as HealthCare.gov, and Marketplace call centers) leading up to the Feb. 15, 2015 deadline have kept some consumers from completing the enrollment process despite their efforts to meet the deadline,” CMS announced today in explaining its decision to authorize a “special enrollment period” of Feb. 16 to 22.

To get the extension, consumers have to state that they tried to phone calls centers or enroll online during Feb. 13, 14, or 15 but could not get through.

The CMS deadline extension applies only to federally-run health exchanges. Under the ACA states have the option of running their own exchanges.

But many state exchanges have also issued extensions, particularly in states like Massachusetts and Rhode Island which have been hit with severe winter storms.

Other states, Maryland and New York among them, have extended enrollment to Feb. 28 for those who started the process before Feb. 15.