We expect a surprise announcement from Team Obama just about any time this morning that in the spirit of giving they’ll be magnanimously extending the healthcare.gov registration period to New Year’s Eve. All because of overwhelming demand or something.
Meanwhile, the folks in Massachusetts have beaten them to the punch.
The state has extended to Dec. 31 the deadline to sign up for health insurance through its online marketplace, allowing an extra week for applicants who have battled a website fraught with technical problems and have spent hours waiting for customer service.
Monday had been the deadline to apply for coverage to start Jan. 1. People were scrambling to meet it. The call center was overwhelmed, and the website was working even more slowly than normal because of high volume, Massachusetts Health Connector spokesman Jason Lefferts said Monday.
Little progress has been made in fixing the website, frustrating thousands of people who are uninsured or whose insurance plan expires this month who may be uninsured in January without coverage through the state. Connector officials said they have put most improvements on hold and have focused on processing applications offline and negotiating the extension with insurers.
“This new timeframe ensures that even more people can get into the best plan for themselves and their family in time for January,” Connector executive director Jean Yang said in a press release.
The decision came on the same day the Obama administration quietly issued a one-day extension for people in more than 30 states who must use the federal insurance website to apply for tax credits created under the Affordable Care Act.
The federal website was plagued by problems at its launch, but has improved significantly in recent weeks. The same cannot be said for the Massachusetts website, once a model for the national marketplace.
You’ll never guess who’s responsible for this mess:
The state’s developer, CGI, also played a major role in creating the federal site. The Connector has paid the company about $11 million on a $69 million contract, but withheld scheduled payments in recent weeks because of problems with the website. Yang and her staff are expected to report to the Connector board next month about efforts to hold CGI accountable to its contract.
This should really make the holiday season enjoyable for the folks working at the insurance companies as people sign up on December 31 and expect to go see a doctor January 1 to begin enjoying the wondrous benefits of ObamaCare. Actually since they’ll all have absurd deductibles it really won’t matter when the insurance kicks in since they’ll be paying out of pocket. The pathetic thing is most of them are totally unaware of that fact.
It’s going to get really ugly once January arrives.