Okay, now that I have your attention I’ll get serious and drop the LOLCatese since it is important.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration and its allies are making a last-minute push to persuade Americans to enroll in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Open enrollment ends at midnight Monday, and with it, the chance to avoid a penalty for not purchasing insurance in 2014, which people will pay with their federal-income taxes next year.
Administration officials say interest is surging as the deadline nears. Sunday evening, Health and Human Services announced 2 million visits over the weekend to HealthCare.gov, the federal government's enrollment site.
In the last week alone, the call center handled a record 2.5 million calls, surpassing the 2.4 million it received during the entire month of February.
Over the weekend, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appeared at a Baptist church in Miami to urge Floridians to sign up before the deadline. She plans a fresh round of television interviews with local stations Monday to boost enrollment numbers.
An interview with Vice President Biden encouraging young people to enroll will air Monday on celebrity chef Rachael Ray's talk show.
"The traffic and energy and interest this weekend shows many more are interested in the coverage," White House spokeswoman Tara McGuinness said Sunday afternoon.
Those who start the process — either by working on a paper application with a navigator, attempting to enroll online, or talking with a call center representative — may continue the process after the deadline passes.
The government has boosted the number of call center representatives, as well as the capacity of the website, to handle the increased volume. Even so, officials with the federal government's health-care exchange tweeted Sunday afternoon: "High call center volume right now. System will now allow consumers to leave their info to be contacted later when we can serve them."
White House officials expect visits to the federal government's health-care website to spike Monday, given that weekday traffic typically is higher than weekend volume.
McGuiness said the website, plagued by technical troubles when it launched last October, was performing well, despite the increased traffic. The average response times on the site are less than half a second, officials with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a blog post Sunday evening.
President Obama announced Thursday that more than 6 million people had enrolled in the federal and state health exchanges, a goal projected by the Congressional Budget Office to ensure the system is sustainable.
Administration officials have not released updated numbers, but there were signs that enrollment numbers have grown since Thursday's milestone was announced.
State officials in New York said Friday that it had bumped up enrollment in private plans almost 25,000 from the previous week, and 70% of the enrollees had not had insurance before. California has already met its goal, but its executive director, Peter Lee, planned to visit several enrollment sites over the weekend. In Washington, DC, gospel artist John Kee and songwriter Brittney Wright performed at a "gospel enrollment concert" Friday.
The government will have to wait for the insurers to release payment data, as well as information about the newly insured, to answer. However, some states, such as California, have reported payment rates as high as 85%.
White House officials Sunday released a memo that details the administration's public outreach to tout the law. One example: White House officials, Cabinet secretaries and "celebrity surrogates," including NBA standout Kobe Bryant and actress Kerry Washington, have held more than 300 radio interviews in the last six weeks, officials said.
Here's what you need to know:
- The deadline is Mar. 31 at midnight EDT for the states where the federal government is running the sign-up website; states running their own exchanges set their own deadlines.
- You can sign up online by going to HealthCare.gov or your state insurance exchange. If you don't know what your state marketplace is called, HealthCare.gov will direct you.
-You can call 1-800-318-2596 to sign up by phone or get help from an enrollment specialist.
-Check online for sign-up centers that may be open locally, offering in-person assistance.
-If you started an application by Monday but didn't finish, perhaps because of errors, missing information or website glitches, you can take advantage of a grace period. The government says it will accept paper applications until April 7 and take as much time as necessary to handle unfinished cases on HealthCare.gov.
-Be prepared for the possibility of long wait times.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/03/30/monday-health-care-enrollment-deadline-looms/7069619/ , http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20140330-monday-is-deadline-to-sign-up-for-health-law.ece and #GetCoveredNow.