Health care officials announced on Tuesday that the deadline for signing up for Obamacare has been extended by two more days to allow last-minute shoppers to choose their insurance plans for 2016.
An estimated 10 million people living in the United States are expected to sign up for Obamacare in the federal government's health insurance exchange website HealthCare.gov as well as in its state-level equivalents in order to receive coverage for next year.
As of the early part of December, however, only 3 million people have used the online portal to apply for health insurance for the first time or renew their existing coverage.
The federal government projected a last-minute surge of coverage applications focused around a Dec. 15 deadline, which will take effect on Jan. 1. While the sign-up season had already begun on Nov. 1, officials expect most of the activity to occur during the last days of applications similar to previous years.
HealthCare.gov has undergone significant changes following the federal website's disastrous launch during the fall of 2013. Officials said the site was able to perform significantly better the previous fall.
This year, the website was able to operate relatively well even during busy moments, including handling around 150,000 users simultaneously.
The federal government, however, still had to establish "waiting rooms" for a number of customers beyond that point during certain times and even asked users to hold a place in line or leave contact information.
"Because of the unprecedented demand and volume of consumers contacting our call center or visiting HealthCare.gov, we are extending the deadline," Kevin Counihan, chief official for HealthCare.gov's implementation, said.
"Our goal is to provide access to affordable coverage, and the additional 48 hours will give consumers an opportunity to come back and complete their enrollment for Jan. 1 coverage."
People looking to receive health insurance for 2016 will be given an opportunity to sign up for coverage at any point before Jan. 31.
Federal officials said individuals will no longer be provided with a broad deadline extension unlike in previous sign-up seasons to match deadlines for the filing of taxes.
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