Unless you've been living under a rock you know that the Obamacare website has had a few... glitches. Marketwatch reported yesterday that due to the glitches, the mandate may be delayed.

The health care law requires most people to have health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014 or face a penalty, but the Administration may postpone when those penalties will go into effect. The law allows for “short coverage gaps” of up to three months before imposing the penalty, which is $95 or 1% of an individual’s income (whichever is greater) next year. That means someone must be covered by March 31, an official with the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed, which is the final day that people will be able to purchase health insurance on the public exchanges, or marketplaces, created by the ACA.

But because the new health policies take effect on the first day of each month, in order to be covered by March 31, people would actually need to have insurance by March 1. And since it takes up to two weeks to process insurance applications, consumers would have to apply by Feb. 15, the Associated Press reported recently. (People must apply by Dec. 15 if they want coverage starting Jan. 1.)




The potential extension comes as the federal health exchanges are under fire for ongoing technological problems that are making it difficult for some people to enroll. The Obama administration has so far resisted GOP pleas to delay the requirement that individuals purchase insurance next year, but has lately expressed frustration with the technical difficulties. Those problems, perhaps the elephant in the room during deadline discussions, may influence a decision to provide an enrollment grace period to avoid fines.

There is another sign that the penalty policy may be in flux: While HHS referred MarketWatch’s previous inquiries about the fine, and the deadline to avoid it, to the Treasury, a spokesperson there referred a request Wednesday back to HHS, suggesting that the health officials are now the ones writing new rules for the law.


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