HealthSource RI extends 2014 sign-up to Dec. 23

BY: Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Islanders are getting an extra week to sign up for insurance plans for next year under President Obama’s new federal health law.

Rhode Islanders will be able to sign up for health insurance coverage until Dec. 23 and still have it take effect on New Year’s Day, HealthSource RI spokeswoman Dara Chadwick told on Sunday. HealthSource RI is the state’s Obamacare marketplace.

Dec. 15 was the original deadline to sign up for coverage that would kick in Jan. 1, but the Obama administration announced late last week the period would be extended by an extra week. Chadwick confirmed the extension also applies to Rhode Island.

Open enrollment for 2014 insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act is currently scheduled to end on March 31, but administration officials have said that deadline may be extended, too. The Dec. 23 deadline is for full-year coverage.

The federal-run state insurance marketplaces built by the Obama administration have been plagued by technical problems since they opened Oct. 1, but HealthSource RI and a number of other state-run websites have had smoother rollouts.

HealthSource RI processed 4,405 completed applications for insurance between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2, with 3,213 of those enrolling in Medicaid, the government program for lower-income Americans, and 1,192 enrolling in private plans, according to the agency.

HealthSource RI is no longer releasing weekly updates on enrollment. The numbers for this month will be released in December, Chadwick said.

A WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll released last week found Rhode Islanders split on the federal health law, with 42% of voters expressing an unfavorable view of it and 41% expressing a favorable view. Support was strongest among self-identified Democrats.