Monday began as deadline day for the Affordable Care Act for coverage to kick in Jan. 1.
But amid heavy traffic on the sign-up website, HealthCare.gov, the Obama Administration announced it would extend the deadline 24 hours through Christmas Eve.
“You should not wait until tomorrow. If you are aiming to get coverage Jan. 1, you should try to sign up today,” Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the federal agency in charge of the overhaul, told the Associated Press.
Bataille said the grace period — which runs through Tuesday — was being offered to accommodate people from different time zones and to allow for any technical problems that might result from a last-minute rush of applicants. By Monday afternoon, the website had received a record 850,000 visits, five times the number logged by the same time last Monday.
But for many, especially the uninsured with very low incomes, it’s likely they aren’t good candidates for what’s being called Obamacare. They should apply for Medicaid coverage instead. For that, there’s no deadline. Medicaid has recently been expanded by Gov. John Kasich’s administration.
Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the expansion of Medicaid to 275,000 working adults without dependent children beginning Jan. 1. A household of one would be eligible with income of no more than $15,856, a household of two, no more than $21,406. Medicaid applicants should call the Ohio Medicaid Consumer Hotline at (800)324-8680 or fill out an online application at Benefits.Ohio.Gov.
Dayton Metro Library Reference Librarian Joy Schwab, who is coordinating the applicants and providing information handouts, said a majority showing up at the library for assistance have very low income and are better suited for Medicaid.
CareSource, the downtown Dayton-based managed care non-profit, on Oct. 1 launched CareSource Just4Me in 30 Ohio counties for the Affordable Care Act. Scott Streator, Vice President of Health Insurance Marketplace at CareSource, said 6,000 have signed up with 60 percent of the enrollment in the past several weeks. “We’re enrolling hundreds per day,” he said.
CareSource is already one of the nation’s largest managed Medicaid plans, serving nearly 1 million Medicaid consumers in Ohio and Kentucky.
A total of 364,682 people selected marketplace plans over the past two months, including 5,672 Ohioans, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s still not close to the 7 million the government hopes to enroll by March 31.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.