New delay: Deadline for ObamaCare enrollment moved back from December 15th to 23rd

They continue to insist that they’re on track for “major improvement” or whatever to the website by November 30th, but if it was as major as they’d hoped, they never would have resorted to this. A little heads up for our twentysomething readers: In case you haven’t decided yet what you’ll be buying with the cash you get for Christmas, good news — Obama and the insurance industry have decided for you.

Wait a sec. I thought the reason they set December 15th as the deadline for enrolling if you want your new coverage to start on New Year’s Day is because it takes insurers at least two weeks to process an application. If they’re now pushing the deadline back a week to give people more time to enroll, that leaves insurers with just eight days to turn applications around — assuming that the applicant info they receive from is readable in the first place. How are they going to do that? They’re … not sure:

Asked via email whether this change complicates matters for insurers, Robert Zirkelbach spokesman for the insurance industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans, responded, “It makes it more challenging to process enrollments in time for coverage to begin on January 1. Ultimately it will depend on how many people enroll in those last few days. It is also important to keep in mind that consumers need to pay their first month’s premium before their coverage can begin.”

Did the White House even … consult with the industry about whether they can manage a new deadline of December 23rd? I ask because, according to several reports, Obama didn’t consult with them before announcing last week that he was going to let them un-cancel plans. Some of them, in fact, had spent the days leading up to his White House presser assuring people that there was no way, no how, no chance dead plans would or could be resurrected. I asked Philip Klein, who listened in on CMS’s conference call today, whether anyone brought that up. Ahem:

Oh well. They work for Obama now. Enjoy the new insurance regime you’ve helped create, guys.

If you missed it in Headlines earlier, here’s an AP report quoting tech experts as saying it’ll cost a lot of money to get to the point where it really needs to be in terms of handling users. How much money? It’s unclear because, amazing as it may seem, they still haven’t identified all the problems yet. Exit quotation via CMS honcho Henry Chao, in an e-mail to staffers four days before went live: “I DO NOT WANT A REPEAT OF WHAT HAPPENED NEAR THE END OF DECEMBER 2005 WHERE MEDICARE.GOV HAD A MELTDOWN.” Actually, it didn’t end up being a repeat; was fixed relatively quickly. Success!

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