KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

White House To Give Consumers Extra Time To Buy Coverage Before Facing Penalty

The Wednesday announcement gave people an extra six weeks -- until March 31 -- to comply with the health law's requirement that they enroll in a health plan. 

The New York Times: White House To Tweak Tax-Penalty Deadline
The Obama administration said Wednesday that people who obtained health insurance by March 31 would not face any tax penalties for being uninsured in the first three months of 2014. Under President Obama’s health care law, most Americans will be required to have insurance next year, and they may be subject to tax penalties if they go without coverage (Pear, 10/23).

The Washington Post: Americans Will Have An Extra Six Weeks To Buy Health Coverage Before Facing Penalty
The Obama administration said Wednesday night that it will give Americans who buy health insurance through the new online marketplaces an extra six weeks to obtain coverage before they incur a penalty. The announcement means that those who buy coverage through the exchange will have until March 31 to sign up for a plan, according to an official with the Department of Health and Human Services (Somashekhar, Goldstein and Eilperin, 10/23).

Kaiser Health News: Obama Administration Plans To Delay Penalties For Consumers Who Sign Up For Insurance By March 31
The Obama administration said Wednesday that it would delay imposing penalties for six weeks on some consumers who might have been caught in a sticky timing problem for enrolling in coverage through the health law’s new insurance marketplaces. Those marketplaces, also known as exchanges, have come under intense scrutiny since opening on Oct. 1 because the technology has malfunctioned. But the White House is not linking this change of policy to website problems (Carey, 10/23).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Officials Affirm March 31 Is Deadline For Health Enrollment
Americans won’t face a health-insurance penalty so long as they sign up for coverage by March 31, 2014, the Obama administration said late Wednesday, offering what amounted to a six-week extension on the deadline. The Affordable Care Act’s most prominent feature is the “individual mandate,” the requirement that most Americans carry coverage or pay a tax penalty, starting on Jan. 1, 2014 (Radnofksy, 10/23).

Politico: White House May 'Align' Obamacare Signup Dates
The Obama administration is working to push back a deadline to prevent people who buy insurance during Obamacare’s open enrollment from being hit by the law’s individual mandate penalty, a Health and Human Services official said Wednesday. Right now people must to sign up by Feb. 15 if they want to avoid paying the penalty — even though there are six weeks left in the enrollment season (Chaney, 10/24).

CNN: White House Moves To Clarify Obamacare Deadline
Some believed that in order to avoid a penalty, one needed to buy insurance by February 15 because a plan bought after that date would not begin until April 1, one day after the March 31 deadline. According to the White House, that March 31 deadline comes from language in the Affordable Care Act that says if one has access to affordable coverage but chooses to be uninsured for three consecutive months in a calendar year, one would face a penalty (10/23).

NPR: Why Postponing Insurance Mandate Is No Easy Fix For Obamacare
The Obama administration has entered full damage-control mode over the balky website intended to enroll people in new health plans under the Affordable Care Act. Senior officials met Wednesday morning with Democrats on Capitol Hill, and in the afternoon insurance CEOs got an audience at the White House. Tomorrow some of the private contractors responsible for building the website,, will testify at a House committee hearing (Rovner, 10/23).

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