Healthcare sign-up deadline extended to Dec. 24

Anticipating heavy traffic on the government

MGN Online

Mishawaka, Ind. Americans scrambling to enroll in the federal and state health insurance exchanges will have one more day to ensure coverage by January 1.

While the official deadline is technically Monday at midnight – Obama administration officials announced today that customers who enroll by midnight on Dec. 24 will also be covered by the New Year.

Resources like the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center’s Health Insurance Services have seen an influx of customers in the past few days.

“We have seen an increase in the number of phone calls and people wanting to come meet with us,” said Sondra Gardetto, Manager of Health Insurance Services. “We've been very booked through today and actually into the year and into January.”

Gardetto is part of a team of insurance agents who work with area customers to help navigate the health care exchange. She says they’ve helped about 275 people sign up for new plans since the exchange opened in October.

Anyone can call to set up an appointment at 1-855-887-5433 and sometimes agents are also able to give guidance over the phone. They might also point you to the marketplace hotline itself, which is 1-800-318-2596.

“We are at the mercy of the marketplace,” said Garetto, referring to previous troubles with the website and canceled policies. “But I truly believe that what we were doing is making a difference in our community.”

This is not the deadline to sign up for health insurance. If you sign up after this Tuesdays deadline you can still get coverage, but that plan is not guaranteed to start on January 1, 2014.

"You should not wait until tomorrow. If you are aiming to get coverage Jan. 1, you should try to sign up today," said Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the federal agency in charge of the overhaul.

Bataille said the grace period was being offered to accommodate people from different time zones and to deal with any technical problems that might result from a last-minute rush of applicants.

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