Today (Monday), the Obama administration extended the Obamacare deadline to sign up for coverage by one day, to tomorrow. Consumers will have to enroll and pay in full by Christmas Eve to have insurance when coverage begins on New Year's Day, or else face a fine.
Most Americans are required to have health coverage in 2014 under Obamacare mandates, or they will face a fine of at least $95 for lapsed coverage.
This one-day Obamacare deadline extension isn't the first. Originally, it was set for Dec. 15. That was extended to Dec. 23, to give consumers additional time navigating the maligned website.
But extending the Obamacare deadline by one day will not have a huge impact on enrollment numbers when they are already this bad...
Obamacare Is Sick
Instead of doling out health coverage for others, Obamacare needs to worry about its own health.
The Obama administration said it needs to have seven million people sign up by March 31, 2014, to be considered a success.
Yet, as we approach the mid-point of that six-month enrollment period, only 1 million Americans have signed up, according to President Obama on Friday.
This is an increase from the 365,000 who had enrolled through Nov. 30; still, the number falls short of the 3.3 million the Obama administration had predicted to sign up by Dec. 31.
Moreover, the law depends on one-third of the enrollees falling in the 18- to 34-year-old "young and healthy" demographic. Although no numbers have been released on demographics thus far, logic dictates that the older and sicker demographic is more incentivized to sign up quickly for coverage.
More than 5 million people lost their plans this year because the plans were not compliant with Obamacare mandates.
The number of people who will have no insurance coverage during parts of 2014 because they fail to sign up by Christmas Eve is unknown.
Public Confusion Lowers Enrollment Numbers
According to a survey released by journal Health Affairs this week, only 60% of the people in need of Obamacare coverage understand its key concepts.
Meanwhile, 86% of Americans between 25 and 64 years old said they do not have a grasp on Obamacare, including its fundamental concepts, according to a Carnegie Mellon University study.
So, in addition to the Obamacare website debacle, mass confusion also seems to be playing a part in low enrollment numbers.
If the law has any chance of success, the Obama administration will need to morph its present healthcare.gov into something sleeker, and with privacy protection; it also must find a way to disseminate information about Obamacare in a better way.
At this rate, it will take a Christmas miracle to be able to count up 3.3 million enrollees, one-third of which are in the young and healthy demographic, by Christmas Eve. Failing that, Obamacare faces a huge obstacle to stay on track for the end of the six-month enrollment period to become a self-sustaining, functioning law.
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