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Freeze your credit after the Equifax hack? Get ready to face Healthcare.gov hurdles

A surge in Americans enrolling in health insurance plans is expected before the Friday deadline.

(Image: file photo)

Americans have just three days left to enroll in health insurance plans for 2018.

But millions who want to enroll in plans under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) for the coming year may be locked out of the Healthcare.gov website if they froze their credit history following the Equifax hack earlier in the year.

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That's because Healthcare.gov, where Americans can choose their health insurance plans, uses your credit history to verify your identity.

Anyone who has frozen their credit history as a precautionary measure to prevent fraud following the Equifax data breach may face an error message that says, "Your identity wasn't verified."

Anyone with no prior credit history in the US, such as foreign nationals, will also face a similar issue.

Many Americans froze their credit following the Equifax hack, which left more than 145 million Americans' data exposed, after hackers broke into the company's systems. From the moment the breach was announced, the credit rating agency tripped up over itself time and again.

An Equifax spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Freezing a credit account makes it more difficult to take out fraudulent loans and mortgages in a person's name. When a credit report is frozen with each agency, a PIN number is required to unfreeze the accounts.

Not all hope is lost. According to CNN, those struggling to get past the identification verification step can call Experian, a credit rating agency, which Healthcare.gov uses to verify identities. If that doesn't work, one workaround is to upload or mail in documents to verify an identity. Americans looking for health insurance may end up unfreezing their credit reports with the three major credit rating agencies -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -- in order to get signed up in time.

Other reports found similar problems. CMS officials said the overall percentage of consumers seeking health insurance coverage is low, but they didn't provide figures.

CMS officials also said that consumers can enroll through the call center if they are concerned about creating and identity proofing an account before the December 15 deadline. And, anyone who has submitted documents to prove their identity but weren't cleared in time for the deadline may still be eligible for a special enrollment.

Open enrollment ends on Friday in most US states.

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