As open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act draws to a close, the Obama administration is doing its best to handle a long-awaited spike in applications, with healthcare.gov logging over eight million visits in the past week alone.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said that if the surge in interest is followed by a proportional increase in actual enrollment, the administration would have a decent shot at exceeding the seven-million end-of-month target it set for itself last year. But given the current discrepancies between signups, ordered plans, and payments, a hard tally remains problematic.
“Over the past week the site has handled record consumer demand well –supporting more than 8.7 million visits since last Sunday, with two million alone this weekend,” the agency said in an operational update released over the weekend. “The site continues to perform well under the largest sustained period of volume to date with average response times less than 400 milliseconds and an error rate of 0.5%.”
The traffic spike comes two weeks after the administration announced its last milestone of five million new enrollees. At that point, it was processing about 50,000 new applications each day. Now, with less than a day left of open enrollment, the number has risen even higher.
“24/7 call center that supports the Health Insurance Marketplace has taken a record number of calls from consumers — in the last week alone the call center took more than 2.5 million calls, compared to 2.4 million for the entire month of February,” the a spokesperson told Forbes.
Understanding the Deadline
Despite the White House’s efforts to ramp up its push for the health care law, a significant number of Americans are expected to miss today’s deadline. Those who have started an application but not finished it are given a grace period extending into April — but what about those who haven’t even begun to apply?
Failure to meet the deadline will have its consequences next tax season, when the IRS will require verification of insurance in order to exempt you from the individual mandate — that is, the federal penalty tax it will otherwise bill you or subtract from your refund. In 2015, the fee will be $95 per person or one percent of modified adjusted income, calculated by subtracting the minimum income to file tax returns ($20,300) from your annual income. As uninsured, you will pay whichever is greater.