April 15 is the new deadline to finish Obamacare health insurance applications, administration officials announced Thursday.
"For those in line on the 31st, we encourage consumers to finish the process as soon as possible," Alicia Hartinger, spokeswoman at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in an email. "They must complete their enrollment by no later than the 15th for coverage this year."
The extended sign-up time frame has made insurance companies nervous, as they fear a loose deadline will allow more customers to wait until their health expenses are higher.
But the administration granted some consumers more time to sign up for coverage due to high traffic on HealthCare.gov during the days leading up to the broader March 31 deadline. Some were put in a queue or asked to come back later when there were fewer people trying to get their applications through the system. The federal online exchange fielded more than 3 million visits on March 31.
Some people will qualify for extra time to enroll beyond the April 15 cut-off. According to guidance posted on HealthCare.gov, people who continue to have trouble with their applications qualify for a "special enrollment period" that could allow them up to 60 days to sign up after the event.
And qualifying life events — such as losing a job, getting married, or having a baby — allow Americans to sign up for health insurance outside of the open enrollment period. Low-income and disabled persons who qualify for Medicaid can also enroll at any time.