The first Obamacare deadline has arrived. Today, December 23, those who don't have health insurance and want to have coverage by January 1, 2014 need to sign up in one of the exchanges offered in the unreliable Healthcare.gov website.
That sounds simple on paper except for the fact that for two months, beginning on October 1, the site has been less than reliable. Yes, changes have been made to improve the functionality and efficiency of the webpage, but problems with it persist.
Moreover, because of all the changes made by the administration in recent weeks, it is uncertain whether those who sign up by today's Obamacare deadline will actually be covered on January 1, 2014.
Following the disastrous roll-out of the Healthcare.gov site, President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have had to scramble to put fixes in place.
On Friday, the President held a year-end press conference before going on vacation to Hawaii, expressing confidence that the Obamacare deadline will be met by those seeking for insurance under the new law of the land.
On Sunday, Obama reiterated those sentiments in a statement:
"The law is working. If you don't have health insurance, go to (the site) right now and sign up. If you do it before December 23rd, you can be covered on the first day of the New Year. … I'm asking you to spread the word about getting covered."
After millions of Americans received cancellations of their health coverage from insurance companies - which, in many cases, they liked - Obama was forced to put in place "fixes."
Prior to the Obamacare deadline, the President introduced changes that gave insurers the option to extend plans to customers for an extra year even if the plans failed to meet Obamacare standards, according to Fox News.
Obama said on Friday that 1 million Americans have enrolled for insurance under the exchanges prior to the Obamacare deadline, which is far short from the 3.3 million the White House had expected to have by now.
However, several uncertainties still exist, including how many people have actually paid their premiums and whether insurance companies will be able to receive payments from those signing up moving forward.
For those who have tried to sign up for health insurance, but have not been able to do so, the administration will honor the "good faith" effort by extending the Obamacare deadline.
"We'll have a special enrollment period," a senior White House official said last week, for "all those who make a good faith effort to get enrolled by the deadline" but are unable to do so. However, the official did not indicate how the administration will determine if the effort was made in good faith.
The deadline to sign up for Obamacare and avoid a penalty - starting at $95 - is March 1, 2014, but many experts believe millions will decide to pay the fee, especially the young and healthy, who the administration is counting on to fund coverage for the elderly and sick.
As the Obamacare deadline has arrived for those who do not have health insurance, there are more questions than answers, and only time will tell how well the President's signature legislation will work.