With the clock ticking down to what was supposed to be an important Affordable Health Care deadline on Monday, federal administrators decided to put more time back on the clock.
Health care enrollment volunteers, throughout Monday, worked phone banks, worked from laptops and cubicles. This one day push had the healthcare marketplace website struggling to keep pace. The sign up deadline for Obamacare, which was extended to Tuesday, will allow insurance coverage to begin January 1st.
"People will automatically judge its success or failure by this date," said Sal Valdez, with Sendero Health Plans.
The group along with Latino HealthCare Forum sponsored a 12 hour campaign targeting Austin's Hispanic community. It's been a hard sell.
"The cultural affinity to changing your life style to include insurance is a slow, learning process," said Valdez.
Susana Almanza was among those who waited until now to sign up.
"Why did it take you so long to commit to do this? Well I was looking at the whole healthcare and procrastinating like every one, let's wait until the last moment , and I know I want to be covered but there were also a lot of things to study," said Almanza.
At the foundations community location in highland mall, about 35-hundred people have signed up since the enrollment process started earlier this fall.
There is a lot of confusion about the deadline and what it really means. For those who fail to sign up right now, the door isn't closing. For the insurance industry and the government the deadline is more about setting a benchmark - a measuring stick.
"You can enroll to get insurance after today, it will just start later in 2014," said Elizabeth Colvin with Foundation Communities.
The Organization operates an enrollment center at Highland Mall. According to Colvin, there's been a late surge of people coming in to sign up.
"With all the delays and issues with the web site everyone was feeling behind and the number of people enrolled in to insurance, so it was important to try to get as many people enrolled by this deadline to show that things are now working, people are enrolling and people want insurance," said Colvin.
In a symbolic step, it was announced Monday that staff members for President Barack Obama quietly signed him up over the weekend. It appears he is not going to finalize it by making a payment because as Commander in Chief, the president receives his health care through the military. He's keeping that plan, so new coverage through the Exchange is not needed.
The real deadline is March 30th. By law- those who should have insurance- but don't- will face a government fine. But there is even talk of trying to get that target date - pushed back.