Maryland residents who have battled faulty technology on the state’s Obamacare enrollment website will get some more time to sign up for coverage after this month, the state's health insurance exchange announced today.
To be clear, the state says it’s not an extension of the open enrollment period scheduled to close March 31. Only Marylanders who made an attempt to enroll by March 31 will get more time if they call a state hotline by that day. All four insurers selling on Maryland's exchange agreed to the special extension.
Dori Henry, a spokeswoman for Maryland’s health department, said the state didn’t need permission from the Obama administration for this plan because it's only for those applying by March 31. A spokeswoman for HHS didn't immediately respond to comment.
Could this be the first of similar extensions soon to come? Could be. The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend that federal officials are crafting a plan that would allow people to sign up after March 31 if they “demonstrate that they tried to enroll in a plan before the deadline, but failed because of website troubles.”
As I wrote last week, state-run exchanges in Nevada and Oregon – which, like Maryland, have had major tech problems – are also looking for more time to get people enrolled.
The Obama administration has made exceptions for previous deadlines to enroll in coverage starting the first day of the following month, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the feds adopted a similar plan for March 31.