Healthcare shoppers and their agents will have an extra week in December to sign up for health insurance before all Americans are required to carry coverage on Jan. 1, 2014. The change pushes the deadline for healthcare applications from Dec. 15 to Dec. 23.
The White House announced the delay today after coming to an agreement with insurers, who expressed concerns that technical issues with HealthCare.gov were preventing many users from applying for coverage.
Julie Bataille, a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told reporters the administration was confident the deadline extension would allow enough time for carriers to process enrollment applications by the new year.
“We believe that that will be able to happen,” she said.
The administration is working to ensure HealthCare.gov will be able to handle a late December traffic surge as a result of the announcement, said Jeff Zients, the White House adviser in charge of fixing the embattled exchange website.
The announcement is the second regarding changes in healthcare enrollment for the Obama administration, who earlier said it is planning to push back the open-enrollment period during which Americans sign up for coverage in 2015.
The White House hopes both changes will reassure carriers who are worried over instability in the insurance market and resulting rate increases in coming years.
The delay in 2015’s signup period will allow carriers “the benefit of more time to evaluate their experiences during the 2014 plan year and allow them to take into account those who may enroll late, including young adults, before setting 2015 rates,” the Health and Human Services department said.
The decision will not affect this year’s open enrollment period.