The CMS is extending the Affordable Care Act open-enrollment period for 2020 exchange coverage after reports that some customers experienced technical difficulties while attempting to sign up for a plan on Sunday, the deadline to enroll.
The agency is extending open enrollment starting at 3 p.m. (EST) Monday to 3 a.m. (EST) Wednesday, Dec. 18 "to accommodate consumers who attempted to enroll in coverage during the final hours of open enrollment but who may have experienced issues," a CMS spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
"CMS' primary goal is to provide a seamless open-enrollment experience for HealthCare.gov consumers and ensure that those Americans who want coverage offered through the exchange can enroll in a plan," the spokesperson said.
However, as of Monday at 4:45 p.m. (EST), the HealthCare.gov website had not been fully updated to reflect the deadline extension. A message in large type on its homepage read, "2020 Open Enrollment is over," while a smaller pop-up message alerted customers to the new deadline.
Supporters of the exchanges feared these mixed messages would confuse customers. Supporters had called for an extension of the sign-up period after HealthCare.gov customers reported website outages and wait times while trying to enroll on Sunday, the final day to choose a plan for Jan. 1 coverage. Typically, the final day of the open-enrollment period is the busiest. The CMS said over half a million people enrolled on Sunday, but some customers were asked to leave their information at the call center so a representative could follow up with them later.
These aren't the first HealthCare.gov glitches customers have experienced this year. Outages reported on Nov. 1, the first day of open enrollment, may have prevented about 100,000 from choosing a plan that day, according to nationwide campaign Get America Covered.