Monday at 11:50 pm is the deadline for those without health insurance to select a plan on the new federal Health Insurance Marketplace exchanges, but problems with the primary website are causing problems for those who waited until the last day.
Most people who make at least $15,300 in income face a penalty if they do not begin registering for insurance by Monday. The penalty is either $95 or one percent of their income on their 2014 tax filing.
The Associated Press reports first-time users working through health care Navigators in Columbia had to leave voice messages after calling the government’s toll-free help number.
However, the federal government had previously announced it is offering a break for those who are unable to finish by 11:50 pm. So long as the enrollee can show they have begun the process by Monday, they will be allowed to register at a later date. However, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has not given a definitive “hard” deadline for those who cannot or do not complete the process by March 31.
Four companies are offering plans on the South Carolina exchanges: Blue Cross Blue Shield South Carolina, BlueChoice Health Plan, Consumers’ Choice, and Coventry One. Blue Cross spokesman Adam Myrick said the company has seen a major increase in the number of people visiting its Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville offices to sign up, especially among younger customers.
“It’s really played out how we expected,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “We expected it to be a deal where they waited until the last minute, and that’s really what has happened. Here with basically two outs in the bottom of the ninth, they’re stepping forward and getting information.”
Anyone who enrolls in one of those exchange plans can receive federal subsidies if they earn more than $11,500 annually. Those who are age 65 and over are already covered by Medicare and are not eligible for the exchanges.