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Obamacare's signup deadline on Monday has its exceptions

WASHINGTON Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:08am EST


(Reuters) - For most Americans who don't have health insurance, Monday is the deadline to sign up for coverage starting on January 1 under President Barack Obama's healthcare law.

For others, it's not a deadline.

There is a "hardship" exception for some that permits them not to sign up any kind of health insurance at all without facing a penalty - the hardship being problems they've encountered with Obamacare and its malfunctioning website HealthCare.gov.

There will also be a "good faith exception" for others, according to a senior Obama administration official.

"We'll have a special enrollment period," the official said last week, for "all those who make a good faith effort to get enrolled by the deadline" but fail to do so.

The official did not say how the government would determine whether or not the effort was made in good faith.

Still others may simply get a break from insurance companies, which the administration has urged to be flexible with people who miss the deadline.

Such is the uncertain state of "Obamacare" as it approaches what was originally supposed to be a defining moment - a signup deadline that would provide the first real test of the viability of the healthcare program brought into law by the Affordable Care Act.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the original deadline for obtaining medical coverage was December 15. That was extended to December 23 after the federal government's website, HealthCare.gov, proved dysfunctional and sometimes non-functional.

The administration has reserved the right to change the deadline again "should exceptional circumstances pose barriers to consumers" enrolling on or before Monday.

Obama said on Friday that one million people had enrolled for new insurance plans under the law through HealthCare.gov, which serves 36 states, and 14 state-run marketplaces.

Many more enrollments are a major priority for Obama's signature healthcare reform, which officials are still hoping will help millions of uninsured and under-insured Americans finally to obtain medical coverage by the end of March.

GAPS IN COVERAGE?

It is not known how many consumers may have no insurance coverage during periods of 2014 because they failed to sign up on HealthCare.gov by Monday.

Some of the 14 states running their own healthcare exchanges have extended their sign-up deadlines past December 23.

On Thursday, the administration announced that if people's old insurance plans were canceled because of new standards under the law, they can claim a "hardship" exemption to the requirement that all Americans must have coverage by March 31 or face penalties that start at $95.

So some of these people may not sign up.

The Obama administration says it is trying to be flexible, but some Republican critics of the law say the frequent delays and changes have muddied the waters and confused people."With no clarity as to when people should sign up and who they should pay and when, it's a virtual certainty that many consumers will find themselves uncovered for a period of time through no fault of their own," Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, said last week.

Administration officials said on Friday there are fewer than 500,000 people who have received cancellation notices from their insurance companies and have not yet found alternatives. Some were "auto-enrolled" in other plans by their insurance companies, the officials said.

The pace of sign-ups has picked up since October and November when technical problems crippled the HealthCare.gov website. Anyone who tried the website in October and November and became stuck has been getting attention from the administration.

Officials sent more than two million emails to people who could not advance through the website. They have also made more than 600,000 phone calls to consumers and mailed notices to hundreds of thousands of people, officials said.

"We are confident that we are doing everything we can so that individuals know what their options are to get coverage, whether it is at the marketplace or seeking it through the private insurers," said the senior official.

(Reporting By Susan Cornwell. Editing by Fred Barbash and Christopher Wilson)

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echoechants53 January 09 2014 at 8:36 PM

HOW IS IT SOMEONE CAN BE PRESIDENT AND OUT OF 35,000. DEAD VOTERS? AND THEN W/NO AMERICAN BORN CITIZENSHIP BIRTH CERTIFICATE BE A PRESIDENT OF THE USA? ALSO HOW CAN HE MAKE INSURANCE W/HIS NAME (WHICH IS FAKE) AND THEN FINE PEOPLE IF THEY DON'T GET HIS F'''''KING CRAP... THAT'S LIKE ME GOING TO KENYA AFRICA AND SAYING I WAS BORN HERE AND YOU ARE TO GET INSURANCE THRU MY NAME WACKYDOODLE OR I WILL FINE YOU... F''''K HIM.

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al December 25 2013 at 10:37 AM

By the way I hate welfare, unemployment benefits , because there is always work in this country, but health and education should be universal.not for the loser parent but kids should have the same level play ground , and it is cheaper and humane to treat all human being .
Health care in this country has become inhumane.

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al December 25 2013 at 10:30 AM

If Jesus on his birth day will do today ,is give uninsured people get health insurance.
Share is his practice. I have my insurance but I don't mind sharing it with people who can't afforded it.
There is in the bile "for rich people most republicans and all tea members is more difficult to go to heaven than a camel pass through a needle hole,!"
Opps sorry

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Mr.Dallas Cowboy December 23 2013 at 8:54 PM

It may be the deadline for (ACA) Obamacare, but it's not to late for Obama to give us all the Christmas present we need most. His resignation of impeachment from congress!!!!!
So, in the meantime, those forty four million who aren't working, not counting the homeless who's mailing address is a subway tunnel or cardboard box in an alley, and can't even pay the $95 penalty, what will they look forward to, time in jail? Thanks Mr. President....Enjoy your vacation in Hawaii, if you think of those people sleeping in a cardboard box send them pictures of your trip.

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halltulsa December 23 2013 at 7:10 PM

Obama met his goal to become the first black president. He met his goal to be the first president to pass nationwide healthcare. I hope his goal was to have the American people disklike him. If so, he's met all of his goals.

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Scotty December 23 2013 at 6:31 PM

Everything costs too much and one of the reasons are the millions that made welfare their right and got too comfortable on it and refuse to bother to work for a living and we just keep paying out. Today I'll bet that 50% of all welfare payments go for cigarettes, drugs, lottery....everything but food.
Welfare is a way to help get you on your feet to survive while you're looking for work. People in this country have been on the welfare roles their entire lives...we pay...many of our elected officials turned their jobs into lifetime positions. No elected official should ever be able to serve more than 8 years....including judges. We are in bad shape in America and none of our elected officials are working for the people. Sociaism or impeachment.

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georgechevrolet December 23 2013 at 4:39 PM

When this whole thing collapses upon itself, and it will when more free riders than payers sign up, they will go to single payer, which I believe is what they wanted all along. I'm beginning to wonder if these "problems" weren't deliberate from jump so they could get the Canadian socialist style here. I wouldn't put it past any of them at this point!

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The Feally's December 23 2013 at 4:21 PM

If you enroll by March 31, 2014 you won't have to pay the penalty fee ($95.) for any monthbefore your coverage began.

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rdh32khll December 23 2013 at 4:12 PM

Deleting posts that contain no abusive language? Just like Huff'n'Puff.

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amshade1 December 23 2013 at 3:52 PM

Yea great plan let the young and healthy have the huge deductibles to pay for the sick elderly. That is fair. One of my friends is healthy 24 years old. He and his wife can get coverage for $195 per month. All good but deductible is $6000 that's crazy unless they have a child they will never meet that in a year. Great plan O-DUMMY

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