Monday is the deadline to sign up for health law

AP Health Overhaul Uninsured
FILE - This March 1, 2014 file photo shows part of the website for HealthCare.gov as photographed in Washington. Welcome news for the Obama administration: A major new survey out Monday says the U.S. uninsured rate kept dropping last month and it’s now on track to reach the lowest levels since 2008, before President Barack Obama took office. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index finds that 15.9 percent of Americans lack health insurance so far in 2014, down from 17.1 percent in the last three months of 2013. Gallup interviewed more than 28,000 adults, making the results highly accurate. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File)

Monday is the deadline to sign up for private health insurance in the new online markets created by President Barack Obama’s health care law. So far, about 4 out of every 5 people enrolling have qualified for tax credits to reduce the cost of their premiums.

Here’s what you need to know:

— The sign-up website stumbled on deadline day. Visitors to HealthCare.gov on Monday morning saw messages that the site was down for maintenance. At times the visitors were also directed to a virtual waiting room — a feature designed to ease the strain on the site during periods of heavy use. Officials attributed the problem to a software bug.

— The deadline is at midnight EDT for the states where the federal government is running the sign-up website; states running their own exchanges set their own deadlines.

— You can sign up online by going to HealthCare.gov or your state insurance exchange. If you don’t know what your state marketplace is called, HealthCare.gov will direct you.

—You can call 1-800-318-2596 to sign up by phone or get help from an enrollment specialist.

—Check online for sign-up centers that may be open locally, offering in-person assistance.

—If you started an application by Monday but didn’t finish, perhaps because of errors, missing information or website glitches, you can take advantage of a grace period. The government says it will accept paper applications until April 7 and take as much time as necessary to handle unfinished cases on HealthCare.gov.

—Be prepared for the possibility of long wait times.

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Health care website stumbles on last day 
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration’s health care website stumbled, falling out of service for nearly four hours on deadline day for new sign-ups.

Visitors to HealthCare.gov on Monday morning saw messages that the site was down for maintenance. At times the visitors were also directed to a virtual waiting room — a feature designed to ease the strain on the site during periods of heavy use.

Administration spokesman Aaron Albright said the website undergoes “regular nightly maintenance” during off-peak hours and that period was extended because of a “technical problem.” He did not say what the problem was, but a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services called it “a software bug” unrelated to application volume.

Albright said consumers seeking to sign up will be able to leave their email were to be “invited back” when the system got up and running again.

Officials said the website wasn’t hacked. The site, which was receiving 1.5 million visitors a day last week, received about 2 million a day over the weekend.

Albright said the website is typically down for maintenance during the period from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. EDT, and that as a result of the technical problems the site was down for close to four additional hours before returning to full strength Monday morning.

The sign-up website had been taken down briefly Friday, with consumer interest surging. Lately the site has been getting about 1.5 million visits a day.

A recent analysis for The Associated Press by the performance-measurement firm Compuware found that the government site runs slow compared with health insurance industry peers.

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