LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The deadline to sign up for health insurance through the online marketplace is Monday at midnight, but one local insurance agent says there is a way to get some extra time.
Once again, www.healthcare.gov, is experiencing technical problems. The federal government's health care enrollment website went down Monday morning for a couple hours due to a software bug. It is back up and running now.
Despite months to sign up, many people are waiting until the last minute to get health insurance. The Obama administration knew there was going to be a mad rush at the end for people to sign up for health insurance through the marketplace. The administration announced an extension last week, hoping to ease the traffic on the website.
In order to take advantage of the extension, a local insurance agent says you really only have to create an account by midnight on Monday.
Jerry Den Boer, with Benefit Advisors in La Crosse, said it's time to take action.
"As an insurance agent, we tend to not really want to see people go without coverage because that's about the time something unfortunate happens," said Den Boer.
In anticipation of heavy traffic online and last minute sign-ups, the Obama administration has extended the deadline.
"It's the same thing back in December. Back in December they went ahead and said we're going to give you an extra couple days and that is something similar we are seeing today. It's the last day, people are waiting," said Lindsey Schwarz-Nichols, western regional enrollment network coordinator with La Crosse County Human Services.
The deadline to sign up for health insurance has been extended until April 15, however, it is only for people who have attempted to sign up but were unable to meet the deadline.
"Just getting in there and creating that account gets them in line for that extra time to go ahead and come back in," said Schwarz-Nichols.
"It gets you that option, because otherwise the next open enrollment will be Nov. 15, 2014. Then your effective date won't be until next January," said Den Boer.
If you miss the deadline to sign up through the marketplace, there are other ways to get insurance.
"They still can get coverage through an individual carrier and get coverage. However, they will not be eligible for a subsidy which would reduce their premium costs," said Den Boer.
"If you are looking for those tax credits, you have to go through the marketplace. They are not going to be available through an agent from a community insurance agency," said Schwarz-Nichols.
If you don't sign up for health insurance at all, you will be forced to pay a penalty of $95 or 1 percent of your monthly household income, whichever is higher.
Either way, everyone who needs insurance should be doing something.
"I wouldn't go to bed tonight without taking some action," said Den Boer.
If you are having trouble getting on healthcare.gov, you can try to apply through the marketplace call center. Just call 1-800-318-2596 to talk to a trained representative who can help you apply over the phone.
If you sign up for health insurance and pay your premium by midnight tonight, your coverage will start May 1.
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