Though the Obama administration insists it won’t extend the Obamacare enrollment deadline nationally, Nevada is the second state to extend exchange sign-ups past the March 31 deadline.
Nevada opted to extend open enrollment, announcing a 60-day enrollment extension for anyone who attempted to sign up for exchange coverage but was thwarted by technical errors — against the wishes of exchange contractor Xerox.
The board of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, Nevada’s Obamacare outlet, agreed to the deadline delay for up to 300,000 Nevadans that may have tried to apply since October, the Associated Press reports. Lead contractor Xerox had wanted the extended enrollment to apply only to those who had selected a plan but not yet paid, a group of 10,000 potential customers.
Just 22,000 people have enrolled in exchange coverage so far, leaving Nevada with around 53 percent of its 2014 enrollment projections filled.
Nevada has been plagued with serious technical issues that rival HealthCare.gov’s worst days and has still been unable to fix many of the problems. One Nevada exchange customer is currently entangled in a battle with the exchange to the tune of $407,000 in hospital bills, after the exchange failed to communicate his enrollment to his insurer despite making months of premiums payments.
It’s not yet clear what the standards Nevada’s exchange will enact to determine whether a customer had previously attempted to apply for Obamacare coverage. Maryland’s Obamacare exchange, which announced a partial enrollment extension on Monday, will allow any customer who simply calls a state hotline before March 31 to sign up for a plan afterwards.
While Maryland officials maintain that it’s not an open enrollment extension — as it applies only to those that call the state hotline and say they’ve had trouble applying — the hotline sets a low bar for proving technological problems.
The solid-blue state was one of the earliest adopters of Obamacare and like Nevada, still struggles with the technical side of the exchange as well. But while Maryland and Nevada have extended enrollment for those who have struggled with their Obamacare websites — or, more practically, anyone willing to make that claim — Oregon is still debating pushing back its deadline though it still lacks a functional website.
After Oregon’s website crashed in October, the exchange has operated with paper applications alone. Though in February, Cover Oregon launched a preliminary website for insurance brokers alone, not individual enrollment, officials announced last week that the site for individual would not be completed before March 31.
Democratic Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has said that he is still working with the Obama administration to push back the deadline for all Oregonians until April 30. While the administration has repeatedly warned it won’t be extending the Obamacare deadline nationally, the clamor for exceptions nationwide is raising suspicions.
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