D.C. Customers Can Get Insurance After Deadline

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WASHINGTON — District of Columbia residents who miss Monday’s deadline to enroll in health plans through the city’s insurance exchange will still have an opportunity to obtain coverage effective Jan. 1, the director of the health exchange said.

The federal government announced Monday that it was extending the deadline until Tuesday for those who enroll using the federal website.

Mila Kofman, the director of the district’s exchange, said Monday that the three major providers selling insurance in the district have agreed to accept premiums as late as Jan. 15 for coverage starting Jan. 1. Aetna will accept payment through Jan. 8, and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and Kaiser Permanente will allow customers to pay their initial premiums through Jan. 15, Kofman said.

“We’re fully committed to make sure that no one falls through the cracks,” Kofman said. “Everyone who wants and needs Jan. 1 coverage, we will do everything in our power to make sure that they get it.”

The health exchange also made a policy shift last month, allowing people to pay their providers directly instead of paying through the exchange so that payments can be processed faster, Kofman said.

Kofman said the exchange had seen an uptick in call volume over the past few days as the deadline neared. The exchange received more than 1,000 calls on Friday, and some callers had to spend 45 minutes on hold, she said. The call center is usually closed on Sundays but was open the day before Monday’s deadline.

As of Dec. 10, 5,600 individuals and families had completed applications to purchase coverage through the district’s exchange. Kofman said more recent enrollment data was not available as of Monday.

Among the more recent customers: President Barack Obama. Kofman confirmed Monday’s announcement from the White House that the president signed up for insurance through the district’s exchange on Friday. Obama selected a “bronze” plan, the least-expensive plan available for someone his age, which will cost him less than $400 a month, the White House said.

“I’m very excited to have him come through D.C. Health Link,” Kofman said.

Before the launch of the exchange, the district had about 42,000 uninsured residents. Another 21,300 people had their policies canceled because they were not compliant with the federal health care overhaul.

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(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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