When Missing The Obamacare Deadline Doesn't Matter

Patricia Banks has been without health insurance for three years.

She knew that without a job, she couldn't afford to buy a plan on the federal exchanges that were being advertised last fall. So when the spring deadline for signing up on those plans passed, she wasn't concerned.

What the 60-year-old former GM worker didn't know was that under health reform she now qualifies for Medicaid. And there's no deadline to sign up.

"I didn't know, I didn't - um - I do a lot of running, I'm not watching TV a lot ..." Banks says.

Recently, Banks was one of a handful of people who stopped into a mobile enrollment van operated by MetroHealth, Cuyahoga County's hospital. The van joined a breast cancer awareness walk featuring free mammograms.

When summer season gets underway, Northeast Ohio's residents can expect to see stepped up efforts to enroll those eligible in Medicaid at festivals, walks and other events, says Sarah Hackenbracht.

She's the executive director of the Cuyahoga Health Access Partnership.

"We have a lot of on the ground work we need to do as enrollment assistors to reach out to folks and make sure they are aware," Hackenbracht says.

Reaching out at a local event certainly worked for Patricia Banks. She filled out an application at the enrollment van.

The Medicaid application process may take weeks, but for those who qualify the health coverage will retroact to the day the application was filed online.

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