Poll: Most Americans Think Obamacare Deadlines Are Unfair

Image: Poll: Most Americans Think Obamacare Deadlines Are Unfair A line forms to see insurance agents from Sunshine Life and Health Advisors at the Mall of Americas in Miami on March 31.

Tuesday, 01 Apr 2014 09:55 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Three in every four Americans believe that the Obamacare enrollment deadline extensions for individuals seeking health insurance are unfair, according to a new survey.

The poll by the healthcare research firm HealthPocket found that 76 percent of the public overwhelmingly disapprove of the piecemeal process of allowing certain states to enroll in Obamacare later than others.

The enrollment deadline for HealthCare.gov, the federal exchange website governing 34 states and Washington, D.C., and the other 16 state exchanges was originally March 31.

But to due to a series of computer glitches in the federal exchange system, the deadline for HealthCare.gov has been pushed back by the Obama administration until mid-April, while some state exchanges have also extended the deadline even though other states have kept to the initial cutoff date.

In the federal exchange, customers simply have to mark off a blue box on the application to take part in the blanket enrollment extension — without having to prove that they had problems signing up before the March 31 deadline. In other words, latecomers are welcome.

But in other states not covered by the federal exchange, there are a series of deadlines varying by as much as three months.

Connecticut, for example, is sticking to the initial March 31 deadline, while Massachusetts has extended the cutoff to June 30 for people who enrolled in a temporary state-run health plan due to earlier processing delays. In Nevada, residents who had trouble signing on with Nevada Health Link are being given an additional 60 days to enroll.

The deadline is important for individuals planning to sign up for insurance because after the set date passes it will be months before the next enrollment date, known as the "lock-out period," and customers will not be able to receive health insurance coverage until Jan. 1 next year.

There is also an annual tax penalty for not enrolling in Obamacare of 1 percent adjusted gross annual income or $95, depending on which amount is larger.

In the survey, 1,307 people nationwide were asked, "Do you believe it is fair if the March 31, 2014, Obamacare enrollment deadline is extended in some states but not in all states?" While 76 percent said it was unfair, 24 percent thought it was fair.

The survey was conducted March 25-28, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percent.

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