Affordable Care Act Deadline Extended to Tuesday, Dec. 24

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(CNN) — The deadline for signing up for the Affordable Care Act has been effectively extended by another day, the Obama administration said Monday.

The deadline had been Monday, Dec. 23 for people who want coverage by Jan. 1. People can now sign up through Tuesday, Dec. 24.

“Anticipating high demand and the fact that consumers may be enrolling from multiple time zones, we have taken steps to make sure that those who select a plan through tomorrow will get coverage for Jan 1,” said Julie Bataille, spokeswoman with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is running the federal site,

So, Tuesday is now the deadline for residents in most states to sign up for Obamacare if they want coverage by January 1. And that’s a big deal — for two reasons:

Most Americans will be required to have some kind of health insurance in 2014 or face a fine.

There’s also a lot riding on this politically.  These last two days will be a key test of President Barack Obama’s attempt to overhaul the country’s health insurance system.

Here’s what you need to know about the Affordable Health Care Act coverage and the deadline, now Tuesday.

1) I’m confused. Haven’t the enrollment deadlines moved around?

There’s been a lot of confusion about the deadlines, and for good reason. Federal and state governments, as well as insurers, keep changing the dates, mainly to accommodate those blocked from completing enrollment due to technical problems.

Each consumer faces two deadlines: One by which to choose a plan, and another for making a payment.

If you live in one of the 36 states serviced by the federal enrollment website,, your best bet for getting hassle-free coverage in 2014 is to select a policy by end of the day Tuesday and pay your first month’s premium by January 10.

2) Do I have to have coverage beginning January 1?

Not really.

The deadline to enroll in coverage to avoid a fine is March 31. That’s the date that the program’s open-enrolment period officially ends. It won’t reopen until October 15.

3) So, why should I worry about the January 1 date?

If you’re without health coverage now, or your plan ends December 31, you may want to get covered as soon as possible. You want to leave enough time left for insurance companies to process your application.

And given all the shifting dates, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says consumers will have to be extra diligent.

“We advise consumers to call their insurance company to make sure that their payment has been received and that they are indeed enrolled,” she said in mid-December.

4) Are the technical problems that plagued the site fixed?

The enrollment website got off to a chaotic start, with many users unable to enroll for days due to technical problems. “We screwed it up,” President Barack Obama conceded Friday.

But the Obama administration said the issues should be resolved.

Americans are enrolling on at a pace of around 25,000 per day so far in December. And with few major website outages, it appears that website’s worst technical problems may be in the past.

5) Will be able to handle a wave of new customers today? was down for several hours before the president’s remarks. So, it remains to be seen if a last-minute surge in enrollments will have an impact.

Federal officials recently said that anyone who tries to sign up but encounters a problem with the website can qualify for a special enrollment period and gain coverage as soon as possible.

6) Who doesn’t have to get health insurance?

Some Americans, such as those who can’t afford it, will be exempt from the health insurance mandate, according to the Congressional Budget Office. For example, people who make so little they don’t have to file a tax return are exempt.

People who are in this country without authorization are exempted, as are members of a federally recognized American Indian tribe who are eligible for services through an American Indian health care provider. People with certain religious beliefs that conflict with acceptance of the benefits of private or public insurance are also exempt.

7) Are the rules different in state-based exchanges?

If you are applying in one of the 14 states running its own exchange, you may have a different set of deadlines.

Rhode Islanders, for example, have until December 31 to pick a plan with coverage starting the next day. But they have to pay their first premium by January 6 and won’t receive an ID card until they do.

In Washington, residents who try to apply by Monday but run into problems have until January 15 to pick and pay for a plan. Coverage will be retroactive to January 1.

California is giving residents until January 6 to pay, and Connecticut until January 10.

In other words, if you’re looking at a state-based exchange, it’s best to check with the exchange directly.

8) Are state-based exchanges seeing a similar surge?

Enrollments there have been mixed.

Covered California, one of the country’s largest exchanges, has seen the highest numbers by far, with more than 100,000 people enrolled in private plans as of November 30. At his Friday news conference, the President pointed to the state as a success story.

Yet in neighboring Oregon, the enrollment total at the end of November was just 44 people — despite aggressive ad campaigns.

While some states are reporting increased interest in advance of Monday’s enrollment deadline, the full effects of the increase won’t be understood until after the New Year.

9) What will Washington be looking at?

The more people enroll, the easier it will be to help Senate Democrats keep seats in 2014. And, of course, a booming enrollment would also improve Obama’s legacy overall.

10) When will we know whether the enrollment campaign has been a success?

We won’t know how many people enrolled in December until Health and Human Services Department releases its enrollment report sometime in mid-January.

At that point, the numbers will reflect three full months of enrollment — the midpoint of the open-enrollment period.

TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


    • Wake Up

      There will be no fines for low income (below annual incomes of $24,000 for an individual and $48,000 for a family) people residing in the states that have governors that are refusing to expand medicaid. Alabama is one of those states.

      • putter

        wakeup, there will not be fines, if you do not get a refund from obamas I.R.S .friends . you as a FAR LEFT LIBS should know that.

  • Michael Kewl

    Obama just extended the deadline again…and again…and again…be sure to make out your check to the DNC and say thanks for your cancelled coverage.
    Come next October the corporate plans will be totally altered to fit the ObamaCare model…all are scr+wed now…

    • Wake Up

      Georgia, in Alabama you are on your own. Since our Governor has refused to expand medicaid you get no help from the Affordable Care Act. Our Governor has decided that the federal taxes sent to Washington by the tax payers of Alabama will go to help people in states that are expanding their medicaid. Keep in mind — this is money that Alabamians have already sent to Washington and would get back! The ACA will pay 100% of the expansion of medicaid for the first three years and 90% forever after that period. At the present time, we are getting 60% from the federal government!

      • putter

        Wakeup , I see your up later than normal , please get up sooner ,all these bleeding hearts (libs) need your help,with the unaffordable care act. (Obamacare)

  • Connie

    I’ll need some kind of insurance after hanging on the phone 4 freakin’ hours… bout to have a breakdown of some sort. At 9:30pm they said it would be a 30 minute wait, well its 1:07am now.

  • eldhughes

    Hang in there. Last minute rush is tough. Went thru it myself big time. But didn’t give up. Got coverage for my hubby and me. Separate coverage for my son. We pay less than if we had hospitalization with the new system. Some even denied us because of pre-existing conditions. I have a friend with breast cancer that benefited from this reform. I know waiting is a hassle, but I just put the phone on speaker and did other stuff until someone answered. As they work out the kinks it’ll get better.

  • dee dee

    lets see I am unemployed,unable to get Medicaid cause I have no children,also my umployment compensation is longer in effect as of 12/28/2013 thanks to governor scott.and for all this , I get to be fined “yea”i have worked for last 40 yrs, and I get nothing

    • Wake Up

      Dee Dee, the Affordable Care Act does provide medicaid for those without children — at least it does in states that have Governors that have agreed to expand their state medicaid. Not in Alabama!

      People in your situation will not be fined. Also, you may want to check and see how your local Alabama congressional group voted on the extension of unemployment! (Hint: they voted to cut you off)

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