State Health Exchange Extends Deadline For 2016 Coverage

<p>(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)</p>
<p>An employee of Connect For Health Colorado, the state&#039;s health care exchange, explains options and procedures to a walk in client signing up for insurance, in Denver, Monday March. 31, 2014. </p>

The state’s health insurance exchange is extending its deadline to midnight Thursday to sign up for coverage that starts Jan. 1.

The exchange, Connect for Health, made that move to help deal with a heavy volume of customers. Inclement weather leading up to the deadline played a role in the decision too.

Spokesman Luke Clarke says people can shop online, call or visit a sign-up center.

“It’s time to act. They still have time to get in, but it’s time to get in to enrollment because you don’t want to go a month without coverage," he said.

Clarke says those who don’t make the deadline can still sign up for coverage that would start Feb.1, but they would miss a month of coverage.

This year, the tax penalty may be $695 or higher for those who don’t sign up.

“The tax penalty is approaching the cost of insurance and if you just pay the penalty you get nothing in return, you’re still not covered. It begins at $695 per person who is not covered for the year,” Clarke said.

Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15, more than 145,000 enrolled in health coverage for next year, either through the exchange or Medicaid. The Denver Post reports that the numbers are still below a forecast given to legislators last week.