The White House on Monday postponed the enrollment deadline for Obamacare coverage beginning Jan. 1 through Christmas Eve.
Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, announced in a statement the 24-hour deadline amounted to a minor adjustment in plans. "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," she said.
However, Bataille only made the statement after reporters from various news outlets inquired about the unannounced change, according to The Chicago Tribune. “Over the weekend, government officials and outside IT contractors working on the online marketplace’s computer system made a software change that automatically gives people a Jan. 1 start date for their new coverage as long as they enroll by 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve,” they reported.
Unidentified sources told the newspaper the short extension takes advantage of an option built into the online system to safeguard against problems brought by large surges in web traffic, similar to online denial-of-service attacks seeking to disrupt normal activity.
The Washington Post’s sources also specified that insurance companies are powerless to stop the extension, one of several recent changes made by the Obama administration. Last week, officials announced exemptions from the individual health care insurance mandate under the Affordable Care Act to those whose policies had been canceled as a result of stricter underwriting requirements under the new system.
Among other exceptions to America’s deadline for enrollment in health care insurance include a “hardship” exception for consumers facing problems caused by the site’s history of technical glitches since its introduction on Oct. 1. The administration also allows for a “good faith” exception for those who made every effort to comply with the deadline but nevertheless failed. The administration, however, declined to specify how officials would define “good faith” for the purposes of granting exceptions to the penalty for failing to enroll in plans.