The deadline to enroll for health insurance is March 31. If you’re still uninsured after that, you’ll likely not be able to enroll until November. And you’ll also have to pay a tax penalty.
With only four days left, nationwide enrollments have increased. More than 6 million Americans have gotten health insurance under the Affordable Care Act as of Thursday. To maintain the momentum, the Obama administration is reaching out to as many people as possible.
Valerie Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Obama. Besides traveling to cities like Los Angeles and Phoenix to talk about the Affordable Care Act, she’s also been given a list of 10 states to call. She says others in the administration have been given similar lists.
“We don’t want to wake up on April 1 and say, ‘Somebody didn’t sign up because they hadn’t heard about this opportunity,’” Jarrett says.
The Obama administration wants to make sure that if you try to enroll for health care by March 31, you will get it, even if you haven’t quite finished the application process.
“This is going to be on the honor system. People who just verify that they began the process, but they haven’t had a chance to finish it yet, will be given a reasonable period of time to complete it. We don’t want to cut people off who are starting the process, particularly because we’ve seen a great increase in the traffic on our website just in the last couple of days,” Jarrett says.
According to Jarrett, 1.5 million people were on the healthcare.gov website on Wednesday. Even with the high traffic, Jarrett says the website is holding up really well, “but as more and more people are on the website, it’s possible that you could have to wait for a bit.”
Within Alaska, enrollment activity has also increased.
With the March 31 deadline just days away, Juneau’s United Way Navigator Crystal Bourland is the busiest she’s been since enrollment started in October.
“I think I’ve enrolled over 20 people at this point just in the last week,” she says.
United Way navigators in Alaska have assisted with more than 500 enrollments. Bourland says the people she’s been helping recently aren’t all procrastinators.
“Some people have just gotten lost in the website and some of the features of the website, or they’re trying to send in supporting documents or people that forgot their passwords two months ago and now are trying to get back in. That’s a big one,” Bourland says.
At Enroll Alaska, chief operating officer Tyann Boling says staff and agents have been working 12-13 hour days and they’ll be working through the weekend.
“But the appointments are filling up very quickly so people need to call us,” she says.
As of Monday, the health care broker enrolled over 1,900 people. Boling thinks another 200 or more have been enrolled just this week.
The deadline to enroll for health insurance is 8 p.m. Monday. Boling says Enroll Alaska agents will still be available after that for people who may experience a life-changing event.
“Say if they lost a job or they lose coverage or they have a child or they get married – any of these life changing events creates a special enrollment people where they can enroll,” Boling says.
And Enroll Alaska plans to work hard this summer thinking of new ways to reach out to the uninsured for the next open enrollment period in November.