Covered Cal opens door to April 15

Health insurance deadlineSaying “there’s only so much you can do operationally,” Covered California has responded to a crush of late-minute enrollments with a new conditional deadline of April 15.

The deadline-day moves — in response to web site slowing and outages — are in the spirit of those announced by the White House for those struggling to sign up for private health insurance via the federal Obamacare web site.

Covered California said late March 31 that it would accept applications until April 15 under two circumstances:

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  • Consumers contact “certified delegates” and explain that they were unable to sign up via the Covered California web site. “Those consumers will have until 11:59 p.m. April 15 to work with the assister to complete their application and choose a plan.”
  • Consumers complete the first page of the online application by 11:59 p.m. March 31. “Consumers must complete the application and select a plan by 11:59 p.m. April 15, 2014.”

    Covered California chief Peter Lee said: “We have always said that if high web site traffic impedes the ability of consumers to apply online for coverage by the deadline, we will help those people cross the finish line. … We can’t in good conscience turn people away who simply couldn’t get onto the website on the last day.”

    On deadline day, March 31, Covered California’s web site logged 324,000 unique visitors, with more than 5.7 million page views. In late afternoon, it remained sluggish and barely functional at times.

    “Covered California is working diligently to resolve technical issues with the website,” it said in a press release.

    Previously, despite widespread speculation that the March 31 deadline for Obamacare would be pushed back, Covered California said a deadline extension wouldn’t be happening.

    The open-enrollment period has lasted six months at that point. While the federal Healthcare.gov web site had severe and well-publicized problems, the California Obamacare operation’s site has been relatively trouble free by comparison.

    Update: The federal HealthCare.gov site stopped taking applications for at least on hour on deadline day, the New York Times reported, blaming software issues.

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