President Barack Obama, March 19, 2014
President Barack Obama, March 19, 2014
The Obama administration said it will extend next week's deadline for Americans who have begun applying for private health insurance but have been unable to complete the process.

Officials said they will provide a special enrollment period beyond next Monday's March 31 deadline for those trying to purchase a health insurance plan through the federally-run website, The extra period is expected to last through mid-April, but no firm date has been announced.

President Barack Obama has led a public relations campaign urging Americans to enroll for health insurance by Monday's deadline. Officials said they are extending the enrollment period to accommodate a possible surge of people who decided to wait until close to the deadline to apply.

Americans who fail to obtain health insurance by March 31 would face a tax penalty.

The federally-run website offers health insurance plans to Americans in 36 states which refused to create their own health insurance marketplace, known as exchanges, under the new health care law. The website's debut last October was marred by numerous technical glitches that kept millions of Americans from enrolling.

Administration officials insist the website has been repaired, but consumers have continued to experience some problems with enrolling.

Some of the 14 states which operate their own exchanges have also extended their deadlines due to similar problems.