ObamaCare enrollment extended again

Sick patients who obtained health coverage through ObamaCare's federal high-risk pool will have until June 30 to select a plan at HealthCare.gov, the Obama administration said Thursday.

The special enrollment period applies to patients in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), a temporary, federal program designed to provide coverage to people insurers had turned away.

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Lawmakers intended the PCIP to stop at the end of 2013, coinciding with the implementation of a rule requiring insurers to cover people regardless of their health status.

But after three extensions, PCIP benefits will now expire on April 30. Starting May 1, anyone who was left in the pool can enroll in a policy at HealthCare.gov.

In a bulletin, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said state-based exchanges are "adopting a similar special enrollment period."

Sign-ups at HealthCare.gov technically ended on March 31, though people who said they struggled to use the website could still enroll through April 15. State-run marketplaces are determining their own deadlines.

Federal health officials said Thursday that any former PCIP patient who signs up for a plan before June 30 will have coverage that is effective back to May 1. Four thousand people are currently enrolled in the program, according to an administration official.

The announcement is likely to trouble insurers on the exchanges as it guarantees that more sick people will join the risk pool.

The administration argues that, as some of the most vulnerable patients, PCIP enrollees deserve flexibility under the new system. 

—This post has been updated.

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