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Deadline to Sign Up for ACA Coverage Extended One Day

KNWA/NBC-- It’s the last day to sign up for health insurance on the federal exchange if you want coverage that starts Jan. 1, but government techies have built in a little wiggle room.
KNWA/NBC-- It’s the last day to sign up for health insurance on the federal exchange if you want coverage that starts Jan. 1, but government techies have built in a little wiggle room.

People have until midnight tonight to get started. But just to be safe, the administration has sneaked in an extra 24-hour buffer, the Washington Post first reported, giving people until midnight Tuesday night to get enrolled if they start the process by midnight Monday.

"Anticipating high demand and the fact that consumers may be enrolling from multiple time zones, we have taken steps to make sure that those who select a plan through tomorrow will get coverage for Jan 1," Julie Bataille, a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the site, told NBC news.

It's something like lining up for election day, the administration says - if you are standing in line when the polls close, you get to come in and vote.

UPDATE:

Local insurance agents and healthcare providers were booked Monday, helping clients enroll. The Community Clinic's Community Development Manager Tyler Clark says the decision to extend the deadline is a good sign.

"Obviously the healthcare law was put in effect for a reason," he says. "There's a great many people who want to get enrolled, and we're seeing that success in Arkansas and nationwide."

The Springdale clinic has been preparing to meet that need since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law.

"We're hiring new physicians as we speak," Clark says. "We've been doing that ongoing for the last 3 years."

Clark isn't surprised by the deadline extension, considering the surge in interest on the last day of enrollment for January coverage.

"We've always speculated in the very beginning there would be a lot of folks who wait till the last minute to enroll," he says. "It's happening and the administration is responding to the needs of the community and the people who want to enroll."

Three months in, Clark says the enrollment process is moving much more smoothly, and on January 1, he says his clinic will be ready for the next step, as thousands of newly insured patients seek care.

"We'll make adjustments as we see fit," he says. "If we have a lot of need for Wednesday's at 6, then we'll try to do a night clinic. We want to be there for our patients so hopefully the private sector will do the same thing and react to that."

To qualify for the latest extension, enrollees must start the process by midnight Monday. Coverage will start on February 1 for anyone who enrolls by January 15th. Open enrollment closes on March 31.
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