Monday, March 31, 2014 at 12:00 AM
Today, March 31, is technically the last day for people to enroll for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act's exchanges. But that deadline has shifted and local advocates in Northeast Ohio say they are ready to keep helping well past today. ideastream's Sarah Jane Tribble reports.
Last week was a busy one for Sarah Hackenbracht, executive director of the Cuyahoga Health Access Partnership. Her organization oversees navigators in Northeast Ohio who are trained to help people sign up on the federal web site healthcare.gov
"The push is still to make sure people are getting the process started. But if they run into a road block while they are in the process but they can't get their application finished, it's going to let us continue to work with them later on into April," Hackenbracht says.
Federal regulators said only that people must have already begun the process in order to have an extension in enrolling.
Hackenbracht and others say it often takes at least two hours to fill out the application on health care gov. And, frequently, people complete the application and select a plan over several visits to the web site.
In Cuyahoga County, those who need help enrolling can call United Way's free 2-1-1. Hackenbracht said navigators worked all weekend and late into the evenings.
"Don't delay," she says. "We're at that crunch time where people need to make a choice for themselves and this is about investing in your health care versus waiting to be penalized."
The penalty for not signing up for health insurance this year is the greater of $95 OR 1 percent of your taxable income above the tax filing threshold.