This thing is a disaster.

(Reuters) РThe Obama administration has delayed a step crucial to the launch of the new healthcare law, the signing of final agreements with insurance plans to be sold on federal health insurance exchanges starting October 1.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified insurance companies on Tuesday that it would not sign final agreements with the plans between September 5 and 9, as originally anticipated, but would wait until mid-September instead, according to insurance industry sources.

Nevertheless, Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for HHS, said the department remains “on track to open” the marketplaces on time on October 1.

The reason for the hold-up was unclear. Sources attributed it to technology problems involving the display of insurance products within the federal information technology system.

Peters said only that the government was responding to “feedback” from the companies, “providing additional flexibility and time to handle technical requests.”

Coming at a time when state and federal officials are still working to overcome challenges to the information technology systems necessary to make the exchanges work, some experts say that even a small delay could jeopardize the start of the six-month open enrollment period.

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