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Blog: Why Is Extending the Sign-up Time for Health Insurance Causing Such an Outcry?

Mar 27, 2014 | By Carolyn Burstein, NETWORK Communications Fellow

The Obama Administration said on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, that all those who have tried to apply but had difficulty due to a technical problem, special circumstance or a complex case, would be given until mid-April (left relatively vague for now, but dependent on the number of people involved) to enroll in healthcare in the federal marketplace. Assuming a surge in demand during the last several days before the March 31 deadline, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, gave an additional reason “…we’re going to want to make sure that people who are already in line can finish their enrollment.”(

Several states running their own exchanges, including Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada and Oregon have taken or, in the case of Oregon, will be taking similar steps.

The government will rely on “self-attestation” (the honor system) to determine if people can sign up after March 31. The extra time will not technically alter the deadline, but will create a new special enrollment period for a new category of people.

Consumer advocates and other groups assisting in registration had been urging the administration to provide extra time for people to complete applications, especially for those caught in a web of complexity, such as those with twin children or for those still experiencing technical difficulties, such as when the website displays inaccurate information about premiums. But along with other changes that have been proposed by the administration over the past few years, such a change will lead, unfortunately, to additional criticism from the Republicans and others who oppose the ACA.

At his weekly news conference on March 26, House Speaker John Boehner was quick to lash out at the extension, claiming that the change is “part of a long-term pattern of this administration manipulating the laws for its own convenience.” ( Yet, Boehner’s credibility on the ACA is extremely low, even non-existent, since his House chamber has passed dozens of bills aimed at either repealing or altering the health law over the past three years and he has made clear to everyone who listens that the Republi