Health care consumers kept from enrolling for Affordable Care Act coverage over the weekend due to technical issues will get a chance to sign up in a special enrollment period running through midnight Sunday.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Monday it would extend the enrollment period — which officially closed Sunday — to individuals affected by a glitch Saturday on the HealthCare.gov site. An Internal Revenue Services feature on the site failed to verify consumer income information, making it impossible to complete an application.
Those who could not sign up because of longer-than-average wait times to the call center will also be able to enroll this week for coverage that begins March 1.
Aaron Albright, spokesman for CMS, said consumers will need to attest they tried to sign up through either method and were unable to finish the process. Evidence that someone began an application on the site will be enough to qualify for special enrollment.
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“It will be hard to verify that a person tried the call center, waited, and didn’t get through. Moreover, people have to be truthful when applying for federal benefits: it is the law,” Albright said in an email. “As such, we are confident that attestation is an effective and efficient way to offer people in line coverage for a time-limited opportunity to finish the process.”
A statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released Saturday said the glitch began around 1 p.m. and was resolved by 8 p.m.
Susan Burke, site supervisor for healthcare information technology company Cognosante, said health care counselors at an enrollment event in the Joe Celestin Community Center in North Miami made follow-up calls to most of the consumers who had technical issues Saturday.
“We still had a few people who were not able to fully enroll. We are planning to follow up with them this week,” Burke said. “We still were able to have people get enrollments and go through the entire process. It didn’t affect everybody.”
Burke said wait times at the call center over the weekend were about an hour. Other health care counselors cited wait times of about 30 to 40 minutes.
Only consumers without coverage through the federal marketplace are eligible for the special enrollment period. Those who were terminated from ACA coverage in 2015 are not eligible.
A similar special enrollment period was opened in 2014 for consumers who experienced issues signing up for coverage by the deadline.
Go to getcoveredamerica.org/connector/ for additional enrollment sites.