...without any public announcement, Obama administration officials have changed the rules so that people will have an extra day to enroll, according to two individuals with knowledge of the switch.The purpose of the extra day is as a fail safe in case the Web site has trouble if a last-minute surge of insurance-seekers proved more than the computer system could handle.
Over the weekend, government officials and outside IT contractors working on the online marketplace’s computer system made a software change that automatically gives people a Jan. 1 start date for their coverage as long as they enroll by 11:59 p.m. Christmas Eve.
The switch is the most recent rule change — some by government officials, and at least one by the insurance industry — as a milestone approaches for what has been a tumultuous three-month start of the long-awaited opportunity for Americans to buy new health plans under a 2010 law intended to reshape the nation’s health-care system.
According to the two individuals, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity about a matter that is not public, the one-day extension is automatic, built into the software, and cannot be overridden by individual insurers if they object.HealthCare.gov still has a large notice in large letters that said, “Enroll by Dec. 23 for coverage starting as soon as Jan. 1. (See the Above version which I corrected).
Asked to explain the reason for the extension — and why it has been kept secret — officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency overseeing the health exchange, did not immediately respond.
UPDATE: Now that it has been exposed, the White House has announced the move.