Last-minute insurance shoppers given grace period - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Last-minute insurance shoppers given grace period

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MADISON (WKOW) -- If you want health insurance by January 1st, the federal government is giving you an extra day to get enrolled.  You will now have until midnight Tuesday.

Monday was the scheduled deadline for people to enroll in health insurance coverage that would take effect on New Year's Day, but with demand on healthcare.gov five times higher than it was last week, many applicants couldn't complete the process.

After getting off work at 8:00 a.m., Ida Sugufara of Madison said she went right to the Dane County Jobs Center to try to get enrolled in a health insurance plan. 

"Basically, if it did not go through today, I'm not going to have insurance in January," said Sugufara.  

When 27 News talked with Sugufara six hours after she arrived, things had not gone according to plan.

"Today is very frustrating," said Sugufara. "Very, very."

Sugufara said the website kept freezing up.  She ultimately tried the phone number on site. 

"I talked to a lady, she said that I have four accounts open in my name and all those accounts have been removed.  So, she gave me another account, so I went back to the computer to try, it didn't want to work," said Sugufara.

Certified application counselors from Access Community Health Center told 27 News that was a problem all day long.  They failed to get anyone signed up at the Jobs Center.

"Just like anything, if you wait until the last minute and there's a problem, you might not be able to get it done in time," said Tammy Quall of Access.
    
Access counselors said Monday's website failure came after a month of relatively smooth sailing.   But the crush of demand brought on by the deadline leaves Sugufara and others hoping they can get an application completed and accepted by midnight Tuesday. 

"But they're not going to open here, they're not going to come," said Sugufara, referring to the Dane County Jobs Center.  "So, who's going to help you?  That's the problem."

"We have staff that are available to help our patients tomorrow, but the public location is going to be closed tomorrow," said Quall.

Because its Christmas Eve, very few help centers planned on being open Tuesday, but there are a few in the Madison area offering hours.  Here is a list of them:

Cognosante - 8383 Greenway Boulevard Suite 600, Middleton - 608-826-7309

8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

SRA International - 2810 E. Washington Ave. , Madison - 608-449-1522

10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The deadline to sign up for health insurance that would take effect by January 1st has been extended through Tuesday due to heavy demand on healthcare.gov.

Certified application counselors with Access Community Health Center say the website was experiencing delays, preventing them from signing up anyone who walked in looking for help at the Dane County Jobs Center Monday.

Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the federal agency overseeing the Obama administration's health overhaul, says the grace period is being offered to accommodate people from different time zones and to deal with potential technical problems that could result from a last-minute rush of applicants.

Applicants will now be able to enroll for coverage effective New Year's Day through midnight on December 24th.

While the Dane County Jobs Center will not be open on Tuesday, the following locations will be open to provide help to applicants:

Cognosante - 8383 Greenway Boulevard Suite 600, Middleton - 608-826-7309

8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

SRA International - 2810 E. Washington Ave. , Madison - 608-449-1522

10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

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CHICAGO (AP) -- Monday's deadline for signing up for insurance under the new health care law has effectively been extended through Tuesday in case of heavy demand on the government website.

Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the federal agency overseeing the Obama administration's health overhaul, says the grace period is being offered to accommodate people from different time zones and to deal with potential technical problems that could result from a last-minute rush of applicants.

Monday was the deadline for Americans who wanted coverage that started on Jan. 1.

The federal HealthCare.gov system serves 36 states. Some other states have also extended enrollment deadlines slightly.

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