HHS spokeswoman Julie Bataille said the decision was made in consultation with insurers, who assured the government that they will be able to enroll those customers by the beginning of the new year. Those consumers must pay their first month's premium by Dec. 31 to have the policy take effect.
The extension applies only to the first month of enrollments. After that, consumers will still have to enroll by the 15th of the month in order to have insurance take effect on the first of the next month. And the end of the open enrollment period for 2014 remains March 31. After that, people who remain uninsured may be subject to penalties by the Internal Revenue Service.
Bataille would not say whether all insurers would participate in the extended deadline. Those details will be released once HHS publishes formal policy documents, she said.
HHS made the announcement at the beginning of a daily briefing with reporters on the progress of fixes to the Healthcare.gov website.
Jeffrey Zients, the man tapped by President Obama to oversee those fixes, said the government is on track to keep its promise of having the website "working smoothly for the vast majority of users by the end of November."
Yesterday, HHS announced it was delaying the start of the 2015 open enrollment period by a month, to Nov. 15, 2014 — pushing it until after the midterm elections.
Follow @gregorykorte on Twitter.