The extension, announced Tuesday, is an attempt to prepare for a last-minute surge of people trying to sign up before the deadline. That sudden spike could leave some people unable to get through the system.
Here's what you need to know about who's eligible for an Obamacare deadline extension and how to claim it:
Who's Eligible for an Extension?
All consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension, The Washington Post reports. (The official cut-off date for extensions has not yet been announced.)
The extension is based on an honor system: No one will be asked why they need an extension.
The following groups of people will especially benefit from the extension:
- People who already have a place "in line" by the deadline to complete enrollment, either online or over the phone;
- People whose applications have been held up because of the website's technical problems; and
- People who haven't been able to get through the system to calculate subsidies to help them pay for coverage.
Claiming an Extension
Consumers will be able to claim an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. But since it's an honor system, Big Brother won't be trying to find out whether the person is telling the truth, the Post reports.
Starting about mid-April, people will no longer be able to get extensions through HealthCare.gov. Instead, consumers will need to request them through one of the federally sponsored call centers nationwide.
However, the grounds for an extension during that period will be narrower, such as having a new baby, getting a divorce, losing a job with health insurance, or experiencing technical difficulties while signing up through HealthCare.gov. Through a method called "self-attestation," people will be trusted to tell the truth about why they need more time to enroll.
If you've been procrastinating on enrollment, now would be a good time to start the sign-up process -- if only to be able to get an extension.
- U.S. to extend some Obamacare enrollment past March 31 deadline: report (Reuters)
- Heath Care: What is the Individual Mandate? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- What Is Obamacare's Penalty for No Health Insurance? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Who Is Exempt From Obamacare's Mandate? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)