Deadline day is well marked at the Utah Health Policy Project in West Valley City, a place that's been helping Utahns over the last six months sign up for insurance on Healthcare.gov.
“These are people who have waited to the last minute so obviously they're a little bit nervous, they want to make sure they get in within the deadline,” said Jason Stevenson, Utah Health Policy Project.
Utahns like Abdullahi Kummiye, who has a pre-existing condition. “For myself, I have diabetes and I don't have insurance and I was self-employed getting little money and I don’t have insurance, but now I get insurance, affordable,” said Kummiye.
But a last-minute surge in traffic Monday crippled the website. So many people apparently tried to sign up at the same time, the site crashed in the afternoon. Users were told to wait or given the option to receive an email telling them when they could return to the site.
“Very frustrating,” said Lloyd Coleman, President of the Utah Association of Health Underwriters. “The waits have been typically 10-15 minutes if you decide to wait, even then really slow to respond.”
Coleman said the down-to-the-wire shoppers are likely healthier people who can afford to wait until the deadline.
“A lot of people now who waited until the last minute who didn't want to buy insurance until they had to and so they're buying it today,” said Coleman. “I’m hopeful with that, that it's going to bring some more less sick people into the system, which will help keep the pool healthy and make it work better for us year to year.”
At last estimate, more than six million Americans signed up for coverage. The White House's original goal was seven million. In Utah, advocates say the state is on track to match its projection.
“Here in Utah our goal is 57,000 by today,” said Stevenson. “As of March 1 we were at 39,000 and it's been a very busy March so I think we are going to get very close to that goal.”
There is some relief for those who tried to sign up Monday, but couldn't. A grace period implemented last week allows people until April 15 to pick a plan as long as they submitted their name and email address on the site by Monday’s deadline.
Americans who are not covered either by private insurance or an ACA account will face a tax penalty if they missed the deadline.