The official website of the New York Health Plan Marketplace – “New York State of Health.” Shows enrollment as of Dec. 15, 2013.
Monday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance plans under Obamacare if buyers want their insurance to kick in at the beginning of the new year.
The deadline has already been extended for a week — but with some problems persisting at a federal website that handles the health insurance exchanges, it’s unclear if everyone who wants to buy a plan to start Jan. 1 will be able to.
More than 1 million people have signed up for insurance through federal and state exchanges, President Obama said Friday — a number that could continue to surge as people scramble to meet the deadline. More than half of those people signed up in the first three weeks of December.
But the process has been shrouded in confusion since the botched rollout of the website HealthCare.gov as officials have repeatedly changed rules and shifted deadlines to deal with the ensuing chaos.
The website, which was nearly disabled by glitches when it first launched in October, now works, Obama administration officials say, but there are still scattered troubles.
Even people who make the deadline might end up without insurance come New Year’s Day because of problems with incomplete enrollment files sent electronically by the federal government to insurance companies.
Amid the confusion, federal officials have been calling and emailing insurance shoppers to emphasize they aren’t considered enrolled until they’ve paid their first month’s premium for the plan.
New York’s own health insurance exchange — run independently of the federal government’s, as are 13 other state exchanges — has been one of the bright spots in the problem-plagued rollout, but even the New York site suffered outages Friday due to high demand.
A Democratic senator warned Sunday the health care law could have a “meltdown” and make it hard for his party to keep control of the Senate if problems aren’t fixed.
“If it’s so much more expensive than what we anticipated, and if the coverage is not as good as what we had, you’ve got a complete meltdown at that time,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“It needs to turn around,” he said of the health care law. “I’m not going to say that I think we will lose (the Senate). It’s going to be extremely challenging.”
With News Wire Services
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