GLENWOOD SPRINGS — As President Barack Obama on Monday quietly extended the deadline for signing up to get health-care insurance that takes effect by Jan. 1, Colorado managers of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) website, Connect For Health Colorado, reported that more than 35,000 Coloradans have signed up for insurance through the state’s online insurance marketplace.
The original deadline was Dec. 23 to sign up for insurance that would take effect by Jan. 1. But during the weekend, according to a story in the Washington Post, government officials and outside technology contractors working on the software that runs the ACA website, made a change that automatically gives people a Jan. 1 start date for their coverage if they enroll by 11:59 tonight, Christmas Eve.
The full enrollment period, for those hoping to have insurance coverage in 2014, is at the end of March 2014.
In addition to the extension, the Obama administration decided late last week to offer an exemption to the requirement that most Americans have health insurance as of Jan. 1. The exemption applies to people whose health plans are being canceled because the policies failed to meet new federal benefits standards, the Washington Post reported.
Also on Monday, the Connect For Health Colorado organization reported that 714,428 people had so far visited the state’s health-care marketplace website, and that a total of 124,486 “customer accounts” had been created. The accounts must be created before a consumer can move forward and shop for an actual health-care plan offered by one of the insurance companies doing business with the Colorado ACA network.
According to Connect For Health (C4H), there were 116,998 “calls and chats” recorded through the website, with an average wait time of just under 10 minutes, and lasting for a duration of nearly 18 minutes of chat and assistance.
The exact number of people enrolled, who will be covered by health insurance as of Jan. 1, was 35,356 as of about noon on Monday, the C4H reported.
According to C4H, those who have signed up for Jan. 1 health insurance coverage will be required to make their first month’s premium payment by Jan. 10. If payment is not received by that date, according to the insurance industry, coverage will not begin.
The C4H customer service center, where help is available to deal with problems or questions by enrollees or other interested parties, will be open until 8 p.m. tonight. More information about how to contact the center is available at www.connectforhealthco.com.