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Obamacare enrollment deadline has exceptions

WASHINGTON--For most Americans who don't have health insurance, Monday is the deadline to sign up for coverage starting on Jan. 1 under U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare law.

For others, it's not a deadline.

There is a “hardship” exception for some that permits them not to sign up any kind of health insurance at all without facing a penalty — the hardship being problems they've encountered with Obamacare and its malfunctioning website HealthCare.gov.

There will also be a “good faith exception” for others, according to a senior Obama administration official.

“We'll have a special enrollment period,” the official said last week, for “all those who make a good faith effort to get enrolled by the deadline” but fail to do so.

The official did not say how the government would determine whether or not the effort was made in good faith.

Still others may simply get a break from insurance companies, which the administration has urged to be flexible with people who miss the deadline.

Such is the uncertain state of “Obamacare” as it approaches what was originally supposed to be a defining moment - a signup deadline that would provide the first real test of the viability of the healthcare program brought into law by the Affordable Care Act.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the original deadline for obtaining medical coverage was Dec. 15. That was extended to Dec. 23 after the federal government's website, HealthCare.gov, proved dysfunctional and sometimes non-functional.

The administration has reserved the right to change the deadline again “should exceptional circumstances pose barriers to consumers” enrolling on or before Monday.

Obama said on Friday that one million people had enrolled for new insurance plans under the law through HealthCare.gov, which serves 36 states, and 14 state-run marketplaces.

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Angel Rivera, left, and his wife Wilma Rivera sit with Amada Cantera, an insurance agent with Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, as they try to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at the kiosk setup at the Mall of Americas in Miami, Florida on Dec. 22.

(AFP)

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