White House Plans to Extend Purchase Deadline for Health Insurance

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The White House has no plans to delay the individual mandate, but apparently it does plan to give everyone a break on the exact date that coverage has to begin:

Amid mounting criticism, the White House said Wednesday that it plans to push back the deadline requiring Americans to purchase health insurance — a provision of the Obama administration’s health care law widely known as the individual mandate — by as much as six weeks, as experts scramble to fix the technical bugs plaguing HealthCare.gov, administration officials told NBC News.

….As the law stands now, individuals are expected to begin the application process via HealthCare.gov by Feb. 15 to avoid a financial penalty. But under the prospective change, individuals will be expected to have started enrollment by March to avoid incurring the penalty.

The current law says you need to have insurance by midnight on March 31. Since the application process takes a while, that means you need to begin by February 15 in order to meet the deadline. Under this new rule, as long as you’ve begun the application process by March 31, you’ll be counted as covered and won’t have to pay a fine.

I’m a little surprised the administration is taking this action so soon. After all, if the Obamacare website is up and running by mid-November, that should still leave plenty of time for everyone to meet the old deadline. This suggests that the White House has already concluded that fixing the online application process is going to be a long slog.

UPDATE: Sarah Kliff has a more detailed explanation here. It turns out the reason for the February 15 date is actually a little more complicated than I suggested. But the bottom line remains the same: under the old rules, you needed to apply by February 15. Under the new rules you need to apply by March 31.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate