Alaskans who want to sign up for health care under the Affordable Care Act have run out of time -- unless they've started the process.
The deadline was midnight Eastern Standard Time, which meant in Alaska it was at 8 p.m.
On Monday the online marketplace, healthcare.gov, saw so much traffic that many who tried to sign up couldn’t do so. But after an announcement last week from the Obama administration, those waiting still have a chance to sign up for health care.
Due to heavy website traffic, those applying for health care through the online marketplace were directed to a virtual waiting room.
“If they start the process before the 8 o’clock deadline, there is a grace period right now,” said Cassandra Maurer, with the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center.
That grace period will allow for that last-minute enrollment rush before the Monday night deadline.
“We don’t know how far or how long people are going to have to continue that application, we’ve only heard rumors at this point about that deadline,” Maurer said.
Federal officials have not announced an exact deadline for this extension but do say it will be sometime in mid-April.
Those who print out a paper form and mail it in, now have until April 7, but that deadline doesn’t apply to everyone. Alaska Native and American Indian applicants have all of 2014 to submit their Indian exemption information, but will have to apply using paper forms to qualify for the exemption.
“We’ve been calming a lot of nerves and encouraging people to hold off and we’ll help them as soon as we get finished enrolling people in health care coverage today,” said Monique Martin, with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.
For those who don’t qualify for an exemption, the choice is simple: either buy health care insurance or pay a tax penalty for 2014.
Those who missed Monday’s deadline won’t be able to sign up for health care with subsidies until November, for coverage starting in 2015.