Deadline for Jan. 1 coverage extended on


McClatchy Washington Bureau

The Obama administration has extended the December 23rd deadline to sign up for federal marketplace health insurance that takes effect on January 1.

Americans now have until 11:59 pm on December 24 to enroll in coverage on that begins on New Year's Day.
The move, made in conjunction with insurers, allows people to take advantage of the relaxed deadline in whatever time zone they may reside.
Administration officials compared the latest Affordable Care Act rule change to allowing people to cast a vote if they were in line when the polls closed.  
"Anticipating high demand, which we indeed saw starting early Monday morning, 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 (December 24) will get coverage for Jan. 1," said Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The deadline extension required a software change, which was made over the weekend. 
The Obama administration's flurry of deadline extensions and rules changes to the health law have caused confusion not only for consumers, but for insurers as well. Last week, insurers agreed to make coverage retroactive to Jan. 1 if consumers make their first month's premium payment by January 10.
"Health plans will continue to do everything they can to help consumers through the enrollment process and mitigate potential confusion or disruption caused by all of these last minute changes to the rules and deadlines,' said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans.

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