Affordable Care Sign Up Deadline Extended

African American Black woman shaking doctors handCiting heavy last-minute demand, U.S. health officials have extended the deadline to sign up for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act that would take effect Jan. 1.

The new deadline is Thursday, Dec. 17 at 11:59 p.m. PST, officials said late Tuesday.

The final sign-up deadline is Jan. 31. But, for coverage to take effect on Jan. 1, you must enroll by Dec. 17.

Most Americans who don’t sign up for coverage under the health care law, sometimes called Obamacare, face rising penalties for remaining uninsured.

“Hundreds of thousands have already selected plans over the last few days, and approximately 1 million of you have left contact information to hold your place in line,” according to a statement on HealthCare.gov, the federal registration website that also covers 38 states. “We want to make sure all of you have access to affordable coverage. This additional 48 hours will give you a chance to come back and complete your enrollment for coverage starting January 1.

“If you provided your contact information on the web or at our call center, we’ll send you an email or call you when we’re ready for you to come back and finish enrolling,” the statement added.

The remaining 12 states handle their own enrollment through state-run insurance marketplaces.

If you take more time to enroll, your coverage won’t take effect immediately. Say, if you enroll or switch plans by Jan. 15, your coverage will take effect Feb. 1. If you put it off until the latter part of January, you won’t have coverage until March 1.