Personal Finance

Health insurers push back date of first payment to Jan. 10

The Healthcare.gov website is displayed on laptop computers arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. The failure of Obamacare's website to process millions of applications drew fire from contractors who said more time was needed for final testing and from lawmakers who traded criticism over political motivations. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
The Healthcare.gov website is displayed on laptop computers arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. The failure of Obamacare's website to process millions of applications drew fire from contractors who said more time was needed for final testing and from lawmakers who traded criticism over political motivations. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg Bloomberg

Health insurers, at the urging of the White House, are moving back their deadline for accepting premium payments from individuals who select their health insurance plan on the exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act.

The insurers’ trade association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, announced Wednesday that plans would accept the first month’s payment through Jan. 10 for coverage that begins Jan. 1.

“Health plans are voluntarily making this one-time change to the payment deadline to help protect consumers from potential gaps in their coverage caused by the ongoing technical problems with HealthCare.gov,” said Karen Ignagni, president of the trade association. “Significant progress has been made in recent weeks to improve the enrollment process for consumers, but more work needs to be done to resolve the back-end challenges, particularly those related to processing enrollment files, to ensure all consumers who selected a plan are enrolled in coverage.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City has set Dec. 31 as its payment due date for coverage starting Jan. 1 but will honor payments made by Jan. 7, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

A Coventry/Aetna spokesman said that insurer will honor January payments until Jan. 10.

Last week the White House urged insurers to take such a step. And before that, the government delayed the deadline for enrolling in individual coverage that starts Jan. 1, moving it back from Dec. 15 to Dec. 23.

The administration is also extending coverage under the health care law’s state high-risk pool, which now covers more than 84,000 people with pre-existing conditions. That coverage was to end Dec. 31 but will now run through the end of January to give enrollees more time to shift into health care law plans.

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