Deadline looms for health insurance sign-up
Posted February 13, 2015
While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says more than 496,000 North Carolinians have already done so, plenty more are expected to sign up by the deadline.
At an enrollment event in Raleigh this week, those trained to help people navigate the Affordable Care Act were ready for the last-minute rush.
“This year has been a dream,” said Jennifer Simmons, a navigator with Legal Aid of North Carolina.
While the rollout of the HealthCare.gov online marketplace in late 2013 was marred with a malfunctioning website, the site now works smoothly. And more local nonprofits are working together to reach the uninsured and underinsured.
Jeremy Reynolds, a military veteran and political science major at Peace University, used to be in that group. Last year, he got coverage for himself and his wife on the online marketplace, and they re-enrolled in January.
“As a 27-year-old, both my wife and I feel (we) live very healthy lives, but within a year, there are things we had no control over,” Reynolds said.
He had picked up a parasite when in Guatemala, and his wife recently had emergency surgery.
Reynolds said having insurance saved them from major medical debt, and they pay just $30 a month.
Advocates say premiums can be surprisingly affordable.
“Ninety-two percent of those are getting help with the cost of coverage,” Simmons said. “The average person is finding the (monthly) cost for health insurance is less than the cost of most people’s cable bills – around $85.”
Simmons said in-person help at enrollment events is free, and filling out an application takes 45 minutes to an hour. There are two sign-up events on Saturday and Sunday.
Simmons recommends people bring income information for everyone in a household looking for coverage, Social Security numbers, immigration documents if they are not U.S. citizens and any current health insurance documents.
“It’s your life,” Reynolds said. “It’s the one thing you shouldn’t gamble with, regardless of where you are economically, your age, health or what you think your health status is.”