It's final: Exchange enrollment has closed

After several deadline delays, enrollment for the federal health insurance exchange officially closed as of midnight Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services provided consumers who began their coverage application but weren't able to complete it by March 31 until mid-April to request an extension.

Leading up to the April 15 extended deadline, HHS emailed consumers who had created accounts on but hadn't yet completed their enrollment. "This is your final chance to get 2014 coverage," the emails said, reported Bloomberg.

Then HHS officials confirmed the agency won't extend the enrollment period beyond the additional few weeks it provided because the backlogs of consumers had been cleared, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Organizations helping enroll consumers said they believe most have received coverage. "Nobody's been left out here," Tim McKinney, president and CEO of the United Way of Tarrant County in Fort Worth, Texas, told Bloomberg.

That said, other enrollment opportunities remain. Consumers can sign up for or switch plans due to life-changing events, including marriage, the birth of a child or loss of a job. Plus, Medicaid has no enrollment deadline, so consumers eligible for the federal-state program can obtain coverage whenever they're interested.

Meanwhile, we won't know for a while how well the Affordable Care Act works, whether consumers actually use their coverage and how many of the new members were previously uninsured. Finding answers will take time because the ACA is complicated and the insurance industry is private and state-regulated, NPR Shots reported.

"The impacts that all of these changes are going to have on the marketplace are going to play out differently all across the country," Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, told Shots. "Simply looking at national data doesn't tell you what's going to happen in a particular market in a particular state."

To learn more:
- read the Bloomberg article
- see the Wall Street Journal article
- check out the NPR Shots article