Local health care navigators saw a last-minute surge of people trying to sign up for health insurance before the March 31 deadline, and assistance is still available to help people through mid-April who qualify for special enrollment periods.
Special enrollment applies to people who were “in line” — online, over the phone or in person — to enroll by March 31 but who couldn’t complete an application for whatever reason. The “extension” deadline is April 15.
The Affordable Care Act requires that most people have insurance this year or pay a penalty when they file their taxes next year.
The deadline was extended in part because of delays experienced last fall with the federal enrollment site Healthcare.gov and because millions of people were trying to access the site in the final weeks and days leading up to and including March 31.
Nancy Ridge, health care navigation manager for the Medical Foundation of Chattanooga, said, "Navigators were very busy leading up to the March 31 deadline, and appointments are filling up fast through April 15. Any available appointment, we are filling. It seems like we’re keeping up right now.”
Navigators are asking people to make appointments as soon as possible so that there’s not another rush to sign up on April 15. Ms. Ridge said on March 31, officials “just had call after call of people trying to get in and asking questions about the website. If they’re thinking about it, they need to get in. They need to call.”
To make an appointment with a health care navigator at the Medical Foundation, please call 423-622-2872. If approved, these consumers will be eligible for coverage beginning May 1.