On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration would extend the March 31 deadline to enroll for health coverage on thirteen ObamaCare exchanges being run by the federal government, including the one in Texas. This comes despite HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ statement to the House Ways and Means Committee on March 11 that there would be no extension of open enrollment beyond the cutoff date.
What’s more, the administration is using the honor system. As long as you check a box indicating that you tried to enroll for a health insurance plan before March 31, you will be allowed an extension to enroll.
Up until now, administration officials had stood firm on the end date for ObamaCare open enrollment, but the announcement of an extension represents significant backtracking that will only end in more confusion. Technically, the move creates what officials are calling a special enrollment period. According to the Washington Post, those who “self-attest” (in HHS parlance) that they need more time to enroll will apparently have an undetermined amount of time to finish their application during the special enrollment period-even after nearly six months of open enrollment on the exchanges-because the administration hasn’t decided on those details yet.
Confusing as the announcement was, it was particularly worrisome for insurance companies. Extra time means extra incentive for people to avoid signing up until they are sick, creating a strain on the entire health care system.
After almost six months of open enrollment, it is unlikely the uninsured-or at least the uninsured who feel they need insurance and want to avoid the penalty-need more time to complete enrollment. The administration can try as it might to encourage health care enrollment, especially among young people, but the fact is that millions of Americans otherwise eligible for exchange plans simply don’t want to buy the expensive health insurance plans being foisted on them by the administration.