KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Administration Extends Enrollment One Day After Crush Of Website Customers

More than a million people signed onto the federal health website Monday as consumers rushed to sign up for coverage to begin Jan. 1.

USA Today: Tops 1 Million Visitors; Deadline Extended
Officials pushed back the Dec. 23 deadline by a day, acknowledging the site was still having problems signing people up. Earlier Monday, more than 60,000 people hit the landing page when it was too busy to accommodate them and left an email address so they could be alerted when the site wasn't busy, said Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (O'Donnell and Kennedy, 12/23).

The Washington Post: Obama Administration Quietly Extends Health-Care Enrollment Deadline By A Day
Anyone who finishes enrolling by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday will have insurance on Jan. 1, the first day it becomes available (Goldstein and Eilperin, 12/23).

The New York Times: Day Is Added To Deadline As Rush Hits Health Portal
Officials compared the last-minute decision to the kind often made by election officials to keep a polling place open late into the night to accommodate voters already in line at closing. The grace period was the latest example of the administration’s willingness to fiddle with deadlines that once seemed set in political concrete (Shear and Pear, 12/23).

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Insurance Deadline Extended In Late Push To Boost Numbers
Insurers said they received no warning about the deadline change and hadn't prepared for it (Weaver and Martin, 12/23).

The Washington Post:’s Last-Minute Shoppers See Mixed Results Signing Up
Around 11 a.m., the Obama administration deployed the site's queuing system, which kicks in when the site has reached its maximum capacity for visitors. Navigators around the country say they have been deluged with phone calls, and that a lot of people are walking into their offices, hoping to get help signing up for coverage despite the navigators’ packed schedule of appointments (Kliff, 12/23).

Reuters: Obamacare Signup Deadline Pushed Back To Tuesday
Officials said the website received 1.2 million visits over the weekend and had surpassed 1 million additional visits by late afternoon on Monday. They said a call center took 200,000 calls from those seeking insurance under the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare (Cornwell and Rampton, 12/23).

The Associated Press: Health Care Shoppers Get Added Hours
Bataille said the grace period – which runs through Tuesday – was being offered to accommodate people from different time zones and to allow for any technical problems that might result from a last-minute rush of applicants (Johnson, 12/24).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Sign-Up Extended As Record 1 Million Use Site
Insurers had agreed to begin coverage at the start of 2014 for people who selected policies by the deadline as long as they send their first payments by Jan. 10. With the enrollment extension, people who buy plans from tomorrow through Jan. 15 will get coverage Feb. 1. The last deadline to sign up for a health plan [to avoid the penalty] in 2014 remains March 31 (Wayne and Nussbaum, 12/24).

The Hill: ObamaCare Site Sees Traffic Surge On Eve Of Enrollment Deadline
The change was ostensibly aimed only at those who began the enrollment process on Monday, but administration officials did not definitively say whether those who initiate an application for the first time on Tuesday would be locked out, or whether they would still be eligible to enroll for coverage beginning on Jan. 1 (Easley, 12/23).

NBC News: 'Record Day' As Last-Minute Obamacare Shoppers Get A 24-Hour Buffer
Experience shows many Americans will wait until the last possible minute to buy health insurance. There’s nothing like a deadline to focus the mind. And in this case, experience also shows that people who waited may have fared better than people who tried to sign up early, although really last-minute users may have to line up (Fox, 12/23).

Fox News: Revised Obamacare Sign-Up Deadline Tuesday
A Republican National Committee spokesman called the latest delay an "opaque move" from an administration that vowed to be transparent. In Ohio, Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor called the deadline extension "a clear sign continues to struggle" (12/24).

Los Angeles Times: Last-Minute Surge Of Health Law Sign-Ups
Even in California and other states where enrollment was running more smoothly, plenty of consumers were experiencing snags. ... California officials said some technical headaches were inevitable, but the state website was working well enough to have enabled more than 400,000 people to enroll in private health plans as of Sunday. Nearly 30,000 people were picking out coverage daily, not counting thousands more Medi-Cal enrollees (Terhune, Lauter and Reston, 12/23).

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