If you still haven’t signed up for health insurance for the new year, you have a little extra time to get that chore done. "The deadline war originally December 15 (to) get enrolled for coverage on January the first, but it has since been extended for an additional two days, December 16 and December 17 until midnight" said Cory Brown, the Benefits Program Manager for 90 Works in Pensacola, and a licensed health insurance navigator under the Affordable Care Act. This is the third open enrollment season for health insurance under the ACA, also known by critics of the program as "Obamacare". She says the process of getting enrolled has never been easier.
The job of the navigators is to help people with their health insurance applications and to find the tax benefits that help make those plans affordable. There is no charge for those services. "Every application I do is different" said Brown, "And we've had repeat customers. I've seen customers for the third year now. Just about every one that we've helped so far (has qualified) for some kind of tax credit that can help (the client) pay for the plan."
Cory Brown and the rest of the navigators at 90 Works will be working pretty non-stop these additional days to get as many people enrolled before the deadline hits at midnight on Thursday. But if for some reason you miss that deadline, open enrollment will continue. If you apply for coverage after the 17th, your plan will not go into effect until February first. And, of course, under the Affordable Care Act, everyone is required to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Those penalties started out fairly low but are increasing. The penalty this year is $695 for each adult, half that for a child "or two and a half per cent of their income, whichever is higher".
There are still people who don’t think they will be able to get coverage because they have a serious health condition. But under the ACA, they can no longer be denied coverage. Cory Brown says she still meets some clients who don’t understand that part of the law, but once they sit down and apply for a plan they are usually pleasantly surprised.
Cory Brown says she expects she and the other navigators will be working long hours until the deadline at midnight on Thursday. To make an appointment call 855 - 90 WORKS, extension 5.