Federal officials said on Tuesday evening that those who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by March 31, will have until mid-April to ask for an extension.
You can qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that you tried to enroll before the deadline.
Administration officials said the new deadline is their way to prepare for a possible surge of people trying to sign up in the final days before the deadline. Such a flood could leave some people unable to get through the system.
“We are...making sure that we will be ready to help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollment — either online or over the phone,” said Julie Bataille, director of the office of communications for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency overseeing the federal health-care exchange.
Health and Human Services officials say that an exact time frame for this extension has not been set, and it will depend in part on how many people request it.
Starting around mid-April, people will no longer be able to get extensions through HealthCare.gov. After that, consumers will be able to request one through one of the federally sponsored call centers nationwide. At that point, the grounds for an extension will become narrower, matching rules for special enrollment periods that have existed for the past few months. Those include people who have a new baby, are getting a divorce, lose a job with health insurance or had a technical problem signing up for coverage through HealthCare.gov.
Once the narrower rules take effect, people will still be trusted to tell the truth about why they need more time — a method known as “self-attestation.”