, state open enrollment deadlines extended

Due to a number of factors--a last-minute surge in sign-ups, technical glitches and tax penalties--some state-run insurance exchanges, as well as, are extending their enrollment deadline.

While the second enrollment period went significantly smoother than the first, the federal exchange is extending its enrollment deadline to Feb. 22, reported USA Today.  

Meanwhile, Washington state announced today it would extend the deadline until April 17, to allow uninsured residents to purchase plans while filing their tax returns, reported the Wall Street Journal. Tax filings are due April 15. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia said they would extend the deadline as well, noted the WSJ.

This is the first year individuals have to pay a tax penalty for not purchasing coverage. For those who did not have insurance last year, the fine may be up to 1 percent of their income. Should they forgo enrolling this year, that fine could as much as double, according to LifeHealthPRO.

What's more, those who did not purchase coverage in 2014 may not even realize they owe money until they file their tax returns, reported the New York Times. It's possible up to 6 million individuals may be subjected to the penalty.

On Saturday, an Internal Revenue Service outage prevented some 500,000 consumers from purchasing plans, according to USA Today. Due to the glitch, individuals were unable to get their incomes verified by the original enrollment deadline.

The special enrollment period would serve the Obama administration well, suggested the Times. First, it would increase the number of insured Americans, which is the main goal of the Affordable Care Act. Secondly, it would reduce the number of individuals needing to pay tax penalties.

However, in the past, insurers have been skeptical about extending the enrollment deadline. Some worry that a wider sign-up window could cause people to enroll only because they are sick, noted the WSJ.

For more:
- here's the WSJ piece
- check out the USA Today article
- read the LifeHealthPRO piece
- here's the New York Times story