WASHINGTON - The White House has decided to allow an extra 24 hours for people to sign up for insurance on HealthCare.gov, through the end of the day Tuesday, to receive coverage beginning Jan. 1.
The official deadline for getting insurance remains 11:59 p.m. Monday. But because of record traffic on the website Monday, officials wanted to reassure the public that people who sought coverage in good faith would be covered.
The extension was first reported by The Washington Post.
An official said the administration does not want to encourage people to wait until Tuesday to visit the website because they fear more record numbers.
A queuing system, or waiting room, kicked in Monday to handle what officials said was the highest volume of traffic the site has seen since it opened Oct. 1. That should keep the site from crashing by asking people to return at a time when the site is less crowded.
But officials said they wanted to accommodate everyone who wanted to get insurance, much as polling places try to stay open later on election night to accommodate those who are already in line to vote when the polls officially close.
Meanwhile, in a symbolic step, President Barack Obama has signed up for health insurance through the new exchanges created by his health care overhaul.
The White House said Obama signed up through the Washington, D.C., marketplace over the weekend. Because he signed up in private, without reporters present, it was unclear whether Obama encountered any of the website glitches that millions of other Americans have experienced.
The White House said Obama selected a plan at the less-expensive "bronze" level.
Obama will continue receiving health care through the military. But when he signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, the White House pledged Obama would personally participate.
The White House said he enrolled to show support for the marketplaces.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.