Thursday, December 19, 2013
Consumers anxious over tight insurance deadlines and lingering computer problems during the holidays will get extra time to pay their premiums under President Barack Obama’s health care law, insurers announced Wednesday.
The board of the industry’s biggest trade group — America’s Health Insurance Plans — said consumers who select a plan by Monday will now have until Jan. 10 to pay their first month’s premium. That’s 10 extra days beyond a New Year’s Eve deadline set by the government.
The voluntary move comes as insurers and the government try to head off anticipated problems around the first of the year, when new coverage options for the uninsured take effect under Obama’s law, and when several million people whose existing policies were canceled must switch to new plans.
Expect even bigger political trouble for the president if consumers who made a good-faith effort to get covered through the government’s balky website show up at the pharmacy and can’t get prescriptions filled, or if they turn up in the emergency room and there’s no record that they are enrolled. The stakes would be higher this time because someone’s health could be jeopardized.
The administration applauded the industry decision.