Flexible Obamacare Deadlines

Will insurers be more flexible about Obamacare deadlines?

Obama administration officials seem optimistic and “strongly urge” insurers to loosen the time-line so that people get insurance they need and those with serious conditions, or in need of medication, can continue the same type of coverage they have now.

There’s apparently concern that because Healthcare.gov did not work properly initially, many won’t be able to make payments or get applications processed by the cut-off date. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, in a conference call with reporters, said the administration is officially extending the deadline for sign-up to 11:59 p.m. EST, December 23  for health insurance that will begin on January 1, 2014.  

To make things easier for people, HHS has instituted a few new policies and is “strongly urging” insurers to give more leeway to people who haven’t yet applied or completed the application process and actually enrolled in a plan.


  • If you had trouble signing up because of an error by Healthcare.gov and your application isn’t completed in time, the Obama administration is asking insurers to give you a grace period and allow your insurance to start as of January 1st.


  • If you can only pay a portion of your premium before January 1st, HHS is asking insurers to accept the partial payment and enroll you in a plan. If an insurer accepts this suggestion you’ll be able to pay in full in January. But this is not a done deal. You must check with the insurance company that you choose to see if it accepts this proposal. Aetna has agreed to take payments until January 8th.


  • If you are one of the 84,000 in a Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), you can remain in that plan until that end of January. It was supposed to end December 21st. They want to give you more time to find an Obamacare plan that meets your needs.


  • If you don’t sign up by December 23rd, but do sign up at the beginning of January, HHS is asking insurers to provide insurance retroactively to January 1st.


  • HHS is strongly urging insurers to honor prescriptions during January that were prescribed under previous plans. 


  • It is also strongly urging insurers to treat out-of-network providers, for acute patients, as in-network and out-of-network providers as in-network if the provider was listed in the insurer’s directory as of the date that you enrolled.

How likely is it that insurers will comply with the requests?

Mike Hash, director of the HHS Office of Health Reform, said insurers routinely deal with people moving from one plan to another and are likely to go along.

Hash said, “This transitional opportunity is quite common in the insurance world.”

Administration officials repeatedly said they want the process to be “seamless” and they think insurers will agree.

We’re eager to hear if your experience seamless. So let us know.



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Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created ConsumerMojo.com to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.