WASHINGTON — Consumer advocates reported some glitches Monday in the final days for "Obamacare" sign-ups, although the Trump administration largely seemed to be keeping its promise of a smooth
In Illinois, some consumers who successfully completed an application for financial assistance through HealthCare.gov got a message saying they would likely be eligible to buy a health plan, "but none are available to you in your area."
That information was incorrect because every county in the nation currently has at least one health insurer offering plans under the Affordable Care Act for next year.
Friday is the last day to
Former President Barack Obama offered encouragement Monday for the closing push, posting on social media and joining a conference call with
On the call, Obama accused "Republicans in Washington" of trying to "sabotage" progress made reducing the number of uninsured. The American people "don't want a health care system that's sent into chaos just for partisan reasons," Obama said, according to a transcript provided by his office.
President Donald Trump came into office looking to dismantle his predecessor's health law, but it survived. Although the administration slashed the ad budget for sign-up season and scaled back grants for
Stephani Becker of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago said the glitch in which consumers were told there were no plans was reported by
An administration official said the issue has been resolved, and HealthCare.gov is reaching out to the consumers affected to encourage them to complete their applications. However, Becker said advocates had gotten a similar response from the administration last week, and the problem continued.
For millions of consumers eligible to
That could slow the HealthCare.gov
One exception: People living in hurricane-affected areas can get an extension to sign up by Dec. 31 by contacting the HealthCare.gov call
Enrollment fluctuates in the course of the year, but it's estimated that 9 million to 10 million people currently have coverage through the ACA's marketplaces. The markets cater to people who don't have access to a job-based plan, and participation is expected to dip somewhat next year.
In a twist, many people eligible for financial help may actually be able to pay lower premiums in 2018. Although list price premiums for the most popular plans went up sharply, so did taxpayer-provided subsidies that limit how much individuals actually have to pay. In many communities, bare-bones "bronze" plans are available for no monthly premium to those eligible for subsidies.
Deadline hour for
Although the Trump administration slashed the advertising budget, HealthCare.gov has been sending out targeted emails to people potentially eligible. Example:
— "FINAL DEADLINE: Enroll in a 2018 health plan before December 15 or risk going without Marketplace coverage."
During the Obama years, officials allowed a grace period for consumers who started an application, but were unable to finish by the deadline. It's unclear if the Trump administration will allow such extensions, or whether it will strictly enforce the deadline hour. Previous extensions allowed hundreds of thousands of consumers to
Failure to provide extensions this year would be a mistake, said Andy Slavitt, who oversaw HealthCare.gov under Obama.
"It really would not be fair to people, particularly if there are technology challenges with the last minute surge as there have been every year," Slavitt said.
While Dec. 15 is the deadline for states served by HealthCare.gov, that's not the case everywhere. Most states that run their own health insurance