White House moves to clarify Obamacare deadline
October 23rd, 2013
11:02 PM ET
10 months ago

White House moves to clarify Obamacare deadline

Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration is moving to clear up confusion over when the public needs to sign up for health care to avoid a penalty. The March 31 open enrollment deadline is not changing, according to White House officials.

The administration says as long as consumers buy health insurance by March 31, they will avoid the penalty.


What had been at issue were different interpretations of the law known as Obamacare. Some believed that in order to avoid a penalty, one needed to buy insurance by February 15 because a plan bought after that date would not begin until April 1, one day after the March 31 deadline.

According to the White House, that March 31 deadline comes from language in the Affordable Care Act that says if one has access to affordable coverage but chooses to be uninsured for three consecutive months in a calendar year, one would face a penalty. The administration says in the insurance market, when consumers sign up before the 15th of a given month, their coverage starts on the first day of the next month: Sign up by February 15 to get coverage starting March 1; sign up after that date (but before March 15), and you won't be covered until April 1 - one day over that three-month deadline.

The administration now says, however, that that is not the case and that they will issue new guidelines to make that clear.

"The individual mandate timing has not changed. The deadline for signing up for insurance is March 31. It was true this morning. It is true tonight," said Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department.

'If you sign up for insurance by the end of March, you will not face a penalty," said another HHS official. "As we have said before, the guidance that the administration will issue soon will reinforce this."

Officials say the new guidelines they will issue are not connected to the problems that have plagued HealthCare.gov and prevented many people from enrolling.

They point to White House spokesman Jay Carney, who has said twice at daily briefings that the dates would have to be aligned. Another administration official said this has always been called "the Valentine's Day problem" in previous discussions, saying this is "something we would do under any circumstance."

Still, the confusion shows how much of the law and its provisions remain unknown, forcing clarifications such as this.

–CNN's Gloria Borger, Brianna Keilar, Jim Acosta , Adam Aigner-Treworgy, Kevin Bohn, Becky Brittain, Zach Wolf, Miriam Falco, and Conor Finnegan contributed to this report.


Filed under: Health care • White House
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. DeepeThought

    Report: Senate Dems Up for Re-Election in 2014 to Back Delay of Obamacare Enrollment Deadline
    .
    Looks like the Republicans in the House were right after all: ObamaCare is not ready and should have been delayed.
    All the President accomplished was forcing a shutdown and loosing the ability to ever negotiate with House Republicans on any issue again.

    October 23, 2013 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  2. DaveC

    I won't comply

    October 23, 2013 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  3. BlackMe

    Disastercare will fall and Obama should go to prison

    October 23, 2013 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  4. John

    No delay – "it's the law of the land"

    Time to eat your peas.

    October 23, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  5. Woodrow

    Now if only they'd move to clarify the rest of the law.

    October 23, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  6. Jim

    Impeach. Indict. Incarcerate.

    October 24, 2013 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  7. meki60

    Obama the charlatan shines again

    October 24, 2013 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  8. Stop-the-Nonsense

    I wish the media and their cronies would stop trying to get the public into a frenzy about enrollment for the ACA. What sane person really thought that they would be penalized because their coverage started 1 day later?
    However, the Administration officials need to do a better job explaining exactly what the public should expect. Especially, knowing the right-wing nuts are committed to discredit anything & everything about this program. It doesn't take much these days to work the mindless minions into a frenzy.
    What's really idiotic to me, a simple phone call or email to Healthcare.gov would have cleared-up any confusion about that issue.

    October 24, 2013 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  9. meghan

    you know i am all for affordable healthcare for people who need it, however i am completely against being forced to take insurance or face a penalty

    October 24, 2013 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  10. merican

    Somebody give obama the nobel failure award already, theres a reason why i don't have insurance... i cant afford it. now i get to pay a fine because i cant afford insurance? so tell me mr silver tounge how am i suppose to afford the fine? to me this sounds like another way for the government to take more of my money to support their money addiction.

    October 24, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  11. Charles Miller

    You should not be forced to get health care if you dont want it. Chargeing a penalty is just there way to get extra money from taxpayers.

    October 24, 2013 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  12. volsocal

    Thanks, Judge Roberts.

    October 24, 2013 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  13. ryche

    I guess since its not 100% exactly as described being desired by the GOP for , hmmm, i dont know, 2 years, cnn's typical liberal posters will find a reasoned way to explain how our president didnt act like a petulant child during the shutdown "non" negotiations.. I guess its only a good idea when the democrats want it..

    or i could say it this way.. Delay Obamacare??? that's racist..

    October 24, 2013 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  14. notsofast10

    I really cannot see why Democrats and Republicans cannot unite on this one? AHA or Obamacare may be the right idea, but it is crazy to think that these people that wrote the bill that became law that have never worked or ran healthcare which is about 17% of our economy can do it in a competent way?

    October 24, 2013 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  15. modocer

    Yep, still trying to clear up those pesky details!

    October 24, 2013 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  16. loadmaster3

    So let me get this straight, Barrycare's websites are not functional yet people will be fined even though they can't sign-up online for Barrycare. How is that appropriate?

    October 24, 2013 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  17. cosmicsnoop

    It is very simple to avoid the penalty. Everyone is freaking out about it. The IRS cannot harass you if you don't pay, they can't garnish your wages or put a lien on your house like regular non payment of taxes. They can only take the penalty from a refund. I, therefore, plan not to have refunds. I am going to be very conscious of how much I need to pay and only pay that. I don't and never had insurance for the simple reason I can't afford it. That hasn't changed because of this law.

    October 24, 2013 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
  18. justino

    "If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet." is starting to make a lot more sense

    October 24, 2013 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  19. A True Conservative

    Don't worry folks.....this red line will be just like the last one.....not REALLY red.....more of a pink or something....

    October 24, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  20. Gurgyl

    ACA is a law. We better watch Hospitals for outrageous charging to patients, insurance, etc. wake med Hospitalists were charging facility, patients, insurance guys, getting busted. Watch out this greed.

    October 24, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  21. John

    We are not concerned about the deadline being extended because of glitches to avoid a penalty. My wife's is currently covered by a state high risk pool. We were notified this insurance will terminate on 1/1/14 as coverage will commence under The Affordable Care Act. The obvious concern is will the system be fixed in time for my wife to put a new policy in place. Have not seen articles addressing this problem but understand other states with risks pools are also canceling their policies on 1/1/14.

    October 24, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |