Burlington County Times

ACA Open Enrollment Extended

After people were forced to leave voice messages or abandon online applications on the health insurance marketplace, the federal government pushed the deadline to 11:59 p.m. PST on Thursday.

Burlington County Times — Decenber 16, 2015

By Jenny Wagner, staff writer

After an "unprecedented" number of last-minute calls and clicks to HealthCare. gov, federal officials are giving people a litde more time to sign up for health insurance coverage that begins Jan. 1.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services extended the Tuesday night deadline to 11:59 p.m. PST on Thursday, after people were forced to leave voice messages or abandon online applications on the health insurance marketplace.

"Hundreds of thousands have already selected plans over the last two days, and approximately 1 million consumers have left their contact information to hold their place in line," HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan said in a statement. "Our goal is to provide access to affordable coverage, and the additional 48 hours will give consumers an opportunity to come back and complete their enrollment."

The Affordable Care Act open enrollment period doesn't close until Jan. 31, but plans selected after the new Thursday deadline will not take effect right away in 2016.

Federal officials said people do not need to do anything special or enter additional information to qualify for the deadline extension — just return to the website or call the marketplace at 800-318-2696 to finish enrolling.

Members of the NJ for Health Care Coalition, a group of organizations working to educate the public on the options available under the Affordable Care Act, said they were pleased with the announcement.

We applaud the decision to extend the deadline giving consumers a few more days to get coverage beginning on Jan. 1. The crush of consumers logging onto HealthCare, gov in these last few days is a testament to the high level of interest and need consumers have for enrolling in affordable health care options," Maura Collinsgru, health care program director for New Jersey Citizen Action, which leads the coalition, said in a statement.

Free help from application counselors also is still available, and can be found by calling the marketplace or visiting www.localhelp.healthcare.gov.

New Jersey Citizen Action also lists local help on its website, www.CoverNJ.org, to assist consumers seeking enrollment information and assistance.

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