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Obamacare payment deadline stretched

By Crissinda Ponder ·
Friday, December 13, 2013
Posted: 12 pm ET

The Obama administration is attempting to go the extra mile to guarantee that Americans who want health insurance by Jan. 1 are able to get it.

Insurers participating in the Obamacare exchanges are now required to accept premium payments through Dec. 31 for health coverage that will start on New Year's Day, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday. This gives consumers an extra week to pay for their new coverage after the Dec. 23 enrollment deadline.

"We are providing additional flexibility to consumers across the country to ensure they have access to coverage options that begin on Jan. 1, 2014," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says in a statement.

Comparison made to Massachusetts

The many deadline extensions that have followed the troubled Oct. 1 rollout of the exchanges are similar to what happened in Massachusetts, when that state launched its pioneering health insurance reform in 2006, says Deborah Chollet, a health insurance research leader at Mathematica Policy Research in Washington, D.C.

"In Massachusetts, I recall, the deadline for signing up was extended three months," says Chollet, adding that many of the state's consumers had procrastinated about obtaining health insurance. "It's a complex product, it requires some thinking about. The more complex it is, the more people are inclined to put it off. We have a situation that is not surprising."

Industry head-shaking

While helping consumers secure health insurance is a top priority, "continued changes to the rules and guidance could exacerbate the challenges associated with helping consumers through the enrollment process," Karen Ignagni, president of the trade association America's Health Insurance Plans, says in a statement.

This new flexibility may add to the insurance industry's list of headaches, but it is not an indication that the Affordable Care Act will crumble, Chollet says.

"Realistically, everyone thought this was going to take a few years to iron out … There's plenty in the law to keep it afloat while the wrinkles work out, no matter how deep these wrinkles are."

Follow me on Twitter: @CrissiPonder.

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December 13, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Apparently it is affordable for the welfare recipient; the workers, like us, not only pay for our own insurance but the welfare recipients, illegals and very poor, who gets it for free. Obamacare is going to destroy the United States.

Linda Flores
December 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm

I agree with Jean Neal...Where is the AFFORDABLE part of this??
Paying for maternity, kids dental...I am 55 yrs old...REALLY???
I wonder how much congress pays for their insurance?? I just do
not get it!! I will be paying a penalty and praying a lot.

Jean M. Neal
December 13, 2013 at 4:24 pm

I'm still trying to figure out how the "AFFORDABLE CARE ACT" is 'affordable' and by who's standards it's affordable. We just had our company's healthcare meeting and found out that the premiums have DOUBLED which means when I get finished paying for healthcare, per pay deductible is over $330 per pay period . . . I bring home $425 per pay period then I have the $50 for the dental plan; that leaves me less than $80 per bi-weekly pay to live off of.. . Affordable??? don't think so.