As Obamacare deadline passes, thousands scramble for coverage

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: April 1, 2014

To say Chad Austin was busy Monday is an understatement.

Austin educates Oklahomans on how to enroll in a private health insurance plan through the federal marketplace.

Monday was the deadline to enroll in a private health insurance plan through the marketplace, as it was the last day of open enrollment.

About 11:30 a.m., Austin had just finished with his 11 a.m. appointment at his office in Hugo and was getting up for the next person walking through his door.

“Every hour of the day is scheduled and double booked,” said Austin, navigator program director for the Little Dixie Consortium, which oversees navigator programs in 63 counties. “We can’t take any more appointments. We have had people call with inquiries wanting to schedule today.”

Austin wasn’t the only one busy Monday with enrollments.

In a flood of last-minute sign-ups, hundreds of thousands of Americans rushed to apply for health insurance Monday, as the day for President Barack Obama’s overhaul brought long waits and a new spate of website ills.

At times, more than 125,000 people were simultaneously using the system, straining it beyond its previously estimated capacity.

Though Monday was the last day officially to sign up, millions of people are potentially eligible for extensions granted by the administration.

Those include people who had started enrolling before the deadline but didn’t finish, perhaps because of errors, missing information or website glitches. The government says it will accept paper applications until Monday and take as much time as necessary to handle unfinished cases on HealthCare.gov.

Those who still don’t get health insurance run the risk that the Internal Revenue Service will fine them next year for remaining uninsured.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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To seek a special enrollment period, contact the federal call center, at (855) 889-4325, or the state marketplace and explain what happened. It’s on the honor system, health officials said. If the extension is approved, that brings another 60 days to enroll.

To find a navigator in your area, a person trained on the federal health insurance marketplace, go to https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/

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