Monday deadline for state health exchange; feds give 1 more day

Monday deadline for state health exchange; feds give 1 more day
FILE -- Brad Finnegan demonstrates the Washington Healthplanfinder website.
Whether you procrastinated or the website hasn't worked for you, you now get an extra day from the Feds to get signed up for health coverage to go into effect Jan. 1.

The Feds offered a one-day grace period, extending its Dec. 23 deadline to Christmas Eve.

While this deadline covers anyone going to www.healthcare.gov, it does not extend to WaHealthPlanFinder.org, the website created by Washington state.

The health plan finder for Washington state is now back up and running, after overnight maintenance and an outage kept it offline until after about 9 a.m. Monday morning. It lets you browse and compare plans and find financial help if you need it to pay for your insurance.

More than 143,000 people visited this site in the past 10 days, and 37,000 applied for coverage.

So far, only 1 million Americans have signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act - which aspires to have 7 million signed up by March 31, when open enrollment ends.

Even before extending the Dec. 23 deadline a day, the Feds said the healthcare.gov website would be able to handle the surge right along with phones line, which would have 12,000 operators standing by.

Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York said, "The bottom line is, there are a lot of good things in Obamacare that people like and the more people see that, the more positive it's going to be."

Just signing up is not the end of the work. Anyone who signs up now, for coverage to begin Jan. 1, must also pay the first premium by Dec. 31, though some insurance carriers have now extended that payment due date to Jan. 10.

And in the state of Washington, the exchange says people who made an effort to receive health coverage by the Dec. 23 deadline, but could not complete the applications, will get additional time to enroll. Applications submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 23, will get their insurance benefits retroactively configured to the start of the year.

In King County there are a number of local offices set up to help people enroll. More info here »