The deadline to sign up for health insurance with coverage beginning Jan. 1 has been extended to Dec. 24 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
Consumers originally had until Dec. 23 at 11:59 EST to sign up. Health and Human Services Department officials said they made the change in the HealthCare.gov system to allow consumers more time, anticipating that heavy traffic could slow the process. The delay was first reported by The Washington Post.
The message coming from the Obama administration, however, is that the deadline is still Dec. 23 at 11:59 p.m. EST. When asked whether consumers could start the process of signing up for insurance on HealthCare.gov on Dec. 24, or if they had to be somewhere in the application to be allowed to complete it Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not offer a comment.
"We recognize that many have chosen to make their final decisions on today's deadline and we are committed to making sure they can do so," said Julie Bataille, a CMS spokeswoman, in an emailed statement. "Anticipating high demand, which we indeed saw starting early this morning, and the fact that consumers may be enrolling from multiple time zones, we have taken steps to make sure that those who tried to enroll today but had delays due to high traffic have a fail-safe."