White House Delays Penalties for Uninsured by 6 Weeks

The Obama administration has pushed back the date it will start imposing penalties on people who don't purchase insurance by six weeks, according to a Kaiser Health News report.

Consumers can now wait until March 31 to choose a policy and enroll without facing fines under the healthcare reform law.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires most people to have health insurance by Jan. 1 or face a fine under the individual mandate. However, consumers who are uninsured for less than three consecutive months won't face penalties, so only those still without coverage after March 31 would have been fined, according to the report. That means people would have to enroll by Feb. 15 to allow time for processing.

The announcement comes on the heels of a push by Senate Democrats, including Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), to delay the individual mandate in light of the technical issues with HealthCare.gov that have prevented people from purchasing coverage, according to the report.

Since the federal exchange site launched earlier this month, it has experienced glitches such as people not being able to create accounts and crashes due to high traffic. HHS has acknowledged design flaws in the website and has announced a "tech surge" led by experts and specialists from inside and outside the government to fix the errors.

However, the White House isn't linking the enrollment deadline delay to the technical issues, according to the report.

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