By PBN Staff
By PBN Staff
PROVIDENCE – Despite last-minute relief from a March 31 deadline for Americans signing up for health insurance through the federal health benefits exchange, Healthcare.gov, Rhode Islanders hoping to obtain health insurance through the Ocean State’s exchange have to complete their application and pick a plan by 11:59 p.m. on March 31, according to HealthSource RI.
The state’s health benefits exchange reiterated the deadline in a press release on Friday, responding to the federal government’s decision to give a little leeway to people trying to get health coverage through the federal exchange, which experienced serious problems when it went online on Oct. 1, 2013.
According to Bloomberg News, anyone who begins applying for health insurance through Healthcare.gov by 11:59 p.m. on March 31 or those who prove they had trouble applying previous to the March 31 deadline will be allowed to complete their application after that date, although no new firm deadline was given at the time of the announcement of the extension.
At the same time, some states running their own exchanges did extend their deadlines from March 31, including California, which set April 15 as the new deadline.
In re-enforcing the March 31 deadline in Rhode Island, however, HealthSource RI reminded those interested in enrolling of the two walk-in sites – one the main contact center at 70 Royal Little Drive in Providence, the other its temporary contact center at 250A Centerville Road in Warwick – which will be open Sunday, March 30, from noon to 9 p.m. as well as Monday, March 31, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. In addition, applicants can enroll by phone at (855) 840-4774 or online at HealthSourceRI.com.
The agency also noted that while March 31 is the deadline for individuals signing up for private insurance, those who are Medicaid-eligible may enroll at any time during the calendar year. In addition, small employers may enroll on their annual policy renewal date, no matter when during the year that falls. And, any person who experiences a qualifying life event, such as a change in income or family size, or those who are new to Rhode Island, may qualify to enroll after the deadline.
HealthSource RI reminded potential enrollees to have the following information handy in order to make the sign-up process proceed smoothly:
The federal government reported Thursday that 6 million Americans had signed up for private health plans under the Affordable Care Act, reaching the estimates that had been revised after the flawed rollout of the federal exchange.
President Barack Obama announced reaching the mark on a conference call Thursday with thousands of workers who had helped enroll people, according to an email the White House sent to reporters. The president encouraged the workers on the call “to redouble their efforts.” Americans who have not signed up for health insurance by the deadline face a fine of up to 1 percent of their income.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest, a lot of demand in these final days of the enrollment period,” said Cecilia Munoz, the director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, on a conference call with reporters.
The Affordable Care Act is aimed at offering health insurance to most of the nation’s 48 million uninsured residents. The 6 million mark meets an estimate published by the Congressional Budget Office in February. That figure was revised down from an initial estimate of 7 million before the troubled start of enrollment in October.
Bloomberg News contributed to this report.