Following a problem-plagued launch of the HealthCare.gov website, the White House on Monday officially announced a six-week extension to sign up for coverage under the law's individual mandate.
The move has been expected since White House Press Secretary Jay Carney acknowledged last week that there was a "disconnect" in the enrollment timeline given the technical issues that have dogged the website.
The Department of Health and Human Services on Monday said that consumers have until March 31, 2014 to sign up for coverage.
As NPR's Julie Rovner reported last week:
"Technically, people are supposed to have coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014. But ... you actually have until the end of March, which is also when the current open enrollment period ends.
Still, the way the sign-up works, you have to enroll by the middle of the month before you want coverage for the insurance to take effect in time. So right now, to be covered by the end of March and avoid being penalized, you have to enroll by Feb. 15."
Republican lawmakers have called for a one-year delay in the start of the so-called "individual mandate," which requires individuals to purchase health care or pay a penalty.
Monday's announcement comes a day after HealthCare.gov experienced yet another embarrassing failure – with the website going down completely for several hours.
"The failure took place at a vendor called Verizon Terremark, and ... presumably took down other clients as well as HealthCare.gov," Rovner says.
"By 7 a.m., federal officials say, the data hub at HealthCare.gov that certifies things like citizenship and eligibility for tax credits was back up and running. And by mid-afternoon [Monday], the rest of the website was back up and running as well, they said. It's not known how many people tried and failed to get on Sunday," she says.