Update: The 2015 deadline isn't the only one being extended today. Later on Friday, the White House announced that the enrollment deadline for plans starting on January 1, 2014, will be extended from December 15th until December 23rd.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services added that the department was "on track" to have the Healthcare.gov federal exchange site functional for most users.
Original post: The White House has confirmed a one-month delay on the start of the Affordable Care Act's 2015 enrollment period. That means enrollment will begin on November 15, 2014, just after the midterm elections. The White House says the delay will give insurers more time to look at the first year of insurance claims on the exchange, in order to determine 2015's premiums.
It will also, as many have pointed out, mean that any premium increases will hit after the congressional midterms. Under the original plan, enrollment would begin October 15th and end December 7, matching the start of the enrollment period for Medicare. Now, it will start Nov. 15, 2014, and end Jan. 15, 2015. The midterm elections are November 4, 2014. Bloomberg first reported the change, noting that the original plan would give insurance companies just until the end of April, 2014 to determine their plans and premiums for 2015. That's very soon after the current enrollment period closes in March. The delay gives companies extra time to set those rates, until May.
The Department of Health and Human Services, still trying to fix the federal Obamacare enrollment site, anticipates that many of the late enrollees will be the young, healthy individuals needed to keep premiums low for everyone. So their stated motivation for the change is intended to ensure that insurance companies get enough time to look at those late-coming applications.
If you're wondering whether this is a story about political manipulation, or one of legitimate policy concerns, the answer is both, as The Washington Post's Sarah Kliff explained this morning. Plus, she notes, the change would make it easier for the Obama administration to delay this year's enrollment period, if needed. As of now, the change will have no effect on enrollments for coverage slated to begin Jan 1st of this year.
Meanwhile, a new poll from the Kaiser Family foundation indicates that 4-in-10 uninsured Americans have heard "nothing at all" the insurance exchanges, as the law's popularity among all Americans continues to drop.