US healthcare insurance deadline extended a day

Certified enrolment specialist Richelle Baker, right, talks to Martha Medina, left, and her daughter Martha, both from Hialeah, Florida, at a Healthcare Insurance Marketplace office in Miami 20 December 2013 Locations offering in-person help to complete the online enrolment process saw increased demand over the weekend

A deadline for Americans to sign up for health insurance to receive coverage by 1 January under "Obamacare" has been extended by a day to Christmas Eve.

The Obama administration announced the grace period amid high demand and concerns about technical issues., the federal marketplace website, has been plagued by glitches since its 1 October rollout.

In a symbolic move, President Barack Obama signed up for insurance through Washington DC's marketplace website.

Mr Obama already receives heath insurance through the military in his role as commander-in-chief, but enrolled in a show of support, signing up for a less-expensive "bronze" plan, according to the White House.

'Sign up today'

Despite the deadline extension, federal officials urged those seeking insurance not to delay.

"You should not wait until tomorrow," said Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency in charge of the federal website.

Obamacare setbacks

  • Nov 27: Year's delay in online insurance enrolment for small businesses
  • Nov 26: Spanish-language sign-up tool is postponed until December
  • Nov 22: Enrolment deadline for individuals is pushed back a week in December
  • Nov 14: Obama announces insurers can keep customers on existing plans for another year
  • Oct 23: Deadline for individuals to avoid penalties is pushed back six weeks to March 2014
  • July: Businesses with over 50 workers given until 2015 to provide insurance or pay a penalty

"If you are aiming to get coverage January 1, you should try to sign up today."

Ms Bataille said the extension had been offered to help those from different time zones and to deal with any technical problems that might result from a last-minute rush of applicants.

The deadline had already been delayed a week after the initial botched rollout of the website.

Two states have extended the deadline for coverage in the new year even further, to 27 December in Maryland and 31 December in Minnesota.

While the website has been upgraded over the course of the past two months, the site has still experienced downtime in the past few weeks.

The site is part of a larger 2010 healthcare law that seeks to cover millions of uninsured Americans.

While Americans may still enrol in private insurance plans through the website after Tuesday, they will not be guaranteed coverage at the start of the new year.

A more important deadline for the Obama administration is 31 March, when enrolment in the programme ends for the year.

Those who do not have coverage through their employer, government-run health programmes or through the federal or state-run websites by then will have to pay a tax penalty.

Mr Obama said on Friday that more than one million people had enrolled in private insurance through federal and state-run websites since 1 October.

Previously White House estimates called for 3.3 million Americans to enrol by the end of 2013, and about 7 million by the end of March 2014.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More US & Canada stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show


  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.