At midnight Monday, the official deadline arrives for Americans to sign up through the new federal health insurance exchange for health plans that begin Jan. 1. But, without any public announcement, Obama administration officials have changed the rules so that people will have an extra day to enroll, according to two individuals with knowledge of the switch. 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 coverage as long as they enroll by 11:59 p.m. Christmas Eve.
U.S. health care consumers were told quite a while ago about a looming deadline: if you want insurance and expect coverage to begin on Jan. 1, you'll have to sign up by Dec. 23. In other words, today's the deadline, at least if you want to start 2014 on an insured foot.
Earlier today, however, the Washington Post reported that there's some fluidity to that deadline.
So, when's the actual deadline? According to the administration, it's still tonight, but if a consumer has begun the process and is in the queue, he or she can still complete the process tomorrow and get coverage by Jan. 1.
Some in the White House are comparing this to people who are still in line to vote when the polls technically close, but who are nevertheless allowed to cast a ballot.
That said, consumers who try to start the process tomorrow night are likely to run into trouble.