As the 2015 open enrollment period wound down, the healthcare Marketplace traffic picked up to levels not seen since mid-December 2014.  According to the Washington Post, website traffic was up 58% in the tail-end of the week.  Saturday, February 14, the website began glitching and preventing many applications from ever being completed.  Customers also endured longer-than-average wait times for call-center assistance.  As a result, the Federal and state exchanges have granted customers access to a limited time special enrollment period.

 

What went wrong on the website?

When customers fill out a Marketplace application, the website determines each customer’s eligibility for various health insurance plans, discounts, and subsidies.  The most important factor in the equation is of course an applicant’s income.  The hiccup arose from an online process of linking with the IRS to confirm shoppers’ incomes.  Customers’ applications were left in “pending” status, and many failed to submit before the deadline passed.  USA Today claims as many as 500,000 applicants may have been affected.  The outage lasted from approximately 2-8 P.M.

 

Who qualifies?

  • Customers who tried to sign up, but were unable to complete their application due to technical difficulties, anytime from Friday, February 13 through Sunday, February 15.  When customers log into their account, they will be prompted to attest to experiencing a glitch, and will be allowed to resume their application.
  • Customers who experienced longer than average call-center wait times preventing them from enrolling anytime from Friday, February 13, through Sunday, February 15.  Customers who call back and attest to experiencing longer-than-average wait times will be allowed to apply.

 

What dates can they sign up?

  • Qualified residents living in states run by the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace may enroll from February 16 through February 22.
  • Qualified Minnesota residents have until February 20.
  • Qualified California residents have until February 20, but only with help from a certified enroller.
  • Qualified Idaho residents have until February 21.
  • Qualified Nevada and Oregon residents have until February 22.
  • Qualified Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont residents have until February 23.
  • Qualified Maryland and New York residents have until February 28.
  • Washington has extended open enrollment until April 17 for anyone who did not understand they could face tax penalties for being uninsured.
  • Qualified District of Columbia residents should send an e-mail to info@dchealthlink.com within the week after open enrollment.  A representative from DC Health Link will contact you soon after. 
  • Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Kentucky will allow limited special enrollments period for qualified residents, but have not disclosed any specific deadlines.

Information gathered from USA Today, acasignups.net, and healthinsurance.org.

 

If you need in-person assistance signing up for health insurance, visit your local Liberty Tax office.  You may also call our ACA Hotline at 1-800-673-8600.

 

-- By Alice Robeson