Extra time to sign up for Jan. 1 health insurance

By Kelly McCarthy

December 23, 2013 Updated Dec 23, 2013 at 6:18 PM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The deadline for enrolling in a health care plan is pushed back by 24 hours to guarantee coverage by Jan. 1. New York State's health care website is following the same deadlines, giving people an extra day.

People shopping for health insurance have a few extra hours before missing the deadline to apply for coverage that starts on Jan. 1, but navigators said given the high volume of traffic, waiting any longer could lead to no insurance at all.

"If you wait until the last minute there's no guarantee that you'll get through," said health care Navigator Brendan O'Bryan, "But the earlier you get in, the better."

The Southern Tier has health care navigators at the Mothers and Babies Perinatal Network and the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. Navigators help assist anyone looking to sign up for coverage.

"We have seen a lot of people who have never carried insurance before," said Mothers and Babies Executive Director, Sharon Chesna, "But because of the mandate to provide the coverage they're coming in to get their coverage as well."

Many New Yorkers are spared the long delays and computer glitches others have had using the Federal website healthcare.gov.

"Our New York State exchange is a very separate program, it had a couple of glitches in the beginning," Chesna said, "But for the most part it really has not been as problematic as they have reported on the federal sight."

New York State uses its own health exchange website, but follows the Federal deadlines. They have received more than 400,000 applications for enrollment since the health care roll out on Oct.1.

"The website is easy to use for the most part," O'Bryan said, "It's as easy as shopping for hotels or airfare on the internet, it's as easy at that."

Anyone who misses the Dec. 24 deadline will risk having no coverage until the month after they sign up. The next deadline is Jan. 15 to have coverage by Feb 1.

"The enrollment period continues on all the way until March 31, and as long as you enroll sometime within that period, March 31, there is no penalty."

It's a $95 penalty for adults that don't sign up, and also means having to wait another year before getting coverage.