Enrollment delay gives insurers extra month to set exchange rates

The White House now gives consumers until Dec. 23 to enroll in a private health plan for new coverage to start Jan. 1, 2014, according to new information posted to HealthCare.gov.

That's eight days later than the original Dec. 15 deadline to have health coverage by Jan. 1.

Federal health officials acknowledged consumers might need more time to review and select coverage options on the glitch-plagued federal exchange website, The New York Times reported.

"This extension will give consumers more time to review plan options, to talk with their families, providers or enrollment assisters and to enroll in a plan," Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in a media conference call, according to CNN.

However, March 31 remains the last day to purchase health insurance on the exchanges and avoid a tax penalty.

The White House also planned to push back the second round of open enrollment from Oct. 15, 2014, to Nov. 15, 2014, so it's after next year's midterm elections on Nov. 4. That move will give insurers until the end of May to set 2015 rates, and an extra month to examine exchange performance, CNN noted.

"This gives them more time to assess the pool of people who are getting insurance through the marketplaces and make decisions about what rates will look like in the coming year," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, the NYT noted.

While the administration has touched base with insurers about the enrollment delays, it won't disclose final details until it releases an official policy announcement, according to CNN.

For more:
- here's the White House info
- read the NYT article
- here's the CNN blog post

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