The Obama administration will extend the March 31 deadline for some Americans who are making an effort to sign up for health insurance under Obamacare, according to reports.
The White House is expected to announce Wednesday that it will allow users who have begun the process of applying for coverage on HealthCare.gov more time to complete their enrollment, the Washington Post reported Tuesday evening. The decision came just six days before the Monday deadline.
Additionally, an honor system will allow consumers to check a blue box while registering on the website that will signal they tried to enroll, unsuccessfully, before the deadline, according to the Post. Those applicants won’t have to prove that they attempted to sign up before March 31.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is experiencing a swell of demand ahead of the impending deadline. Officials said before the enrollment period began last October that they expected a surge of sign-ups around the law’s December and March deadlines.
Earlier this month, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told Congress the open-enrollment period would not be delayed past March 31. Additionally, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last Friday that officials have made the March 31 deadline clear.
But, he added, “as was the case for the December deadline, we’re going to want to make sure that people who are already in line can finish their enrollment.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus pounced on the administration’s decision.
“Another day, another Obamacare delay from the same Obama administration that won’t work with Republicans to help Americans suffering from the unintended consequences of the Democrats’ failed health care law,” he said in a statement. “Democrats in leadership may say they are doubling down on Obamacare but you have to wonder how many more unilateral delays their candidates running in 2014 can withstand.”
Previously, consumers risked not being covered with insurance for the remainder of the year if they didn’t register for a plan by March 31. The next opportunity to enroll will be in November. Americans who cannot afford coverage with the help of subsidies and tax exemptions, however, won’t suffer penalties for not enrolling.
Nearly 1 million people registered for insurance under the health care law last month. About 4.2 million people in all have found private health coverage through the new insurance exchanges since the rocky rollout of the website last October.