AHIP Postpones Obamacare Premium Deadline

Another health care delay, this one favors consumers.

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While procrastinators still have only six days left until the end of enrollment on the federal and state health exchange for coverage beginning Jan. 1, another deadline has been postponed.

[READ: Obama Administration Delays Penalties for Obamacare Sign-up]

The board of America's Health Insurance Plan, (AHIP) a trade association representing the health industry, announced Wednesday that those who meet the Dec. 23 enrollment date can pay their premium up until Jan. 10 instead of by New Year's Eve, reports the AP.

Karen Ignagni, CEO of AHIP told the AP the decision was meant "to give consumers greater peace of mind about their health coverage." The initial deadline of Dec. 31 gave consumers too little time to pay their first month's premium following the Dec. 23 enrollment. AHIP explained in a press release that it chose to postpone the deadline for paying the first month's premium, because of enrollment issues on the Web.

"Health plans are voluntarily making this one-time change to the payment deadline to help protect consumers from potential gaps in their coverage caused by the ongoing technical problems with healthcare.gov," said the release.

[ALSO: Despite Stumbling Blocks, Latinos Sign Up for Obamacare]

As a result, AHIP will allow retroactive coverage to begin Jan. 1, 2014, as long as consumers enroll in plans by Dec. 23. The release stresses that these consumers must make their payments by Jan. 10.

The title of the announcement "Health Insurers Voluntarily Extend Deadline" is slightly misleading as it comes following the Department of Health and Human Services strongly worded plea last week to health insurers to accept payments later than Dec. 31. According to Sarah Kliff at WaPo's Wonkblog, Aetna has already agreed to delay its deadline for the first premium payment until Jan. 8.

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