Monday (Mar. 31) marked the final day to sign up for health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Many enrollment centers across Northwest Arkansas saw an increase in signees walking through their doors looking for help to enroll in health insurance before the 11 p.m. central time zone deadline.
“We have been packed since 8:30 a.m.,” said Larry Fennell, an independent health agent in Arkansas. “I have people coming in at 7 p.m. tonight wanting to get enrolled.”
Advocates of the health insurance overhaul have been pushing to get as many people as possible to sign up.
“They are going to have all of the preventative services,” Fennell said. “They are not going to worry about, ‘What if I fall off of a ladder?’ They are going to have all essential benefits of the health act.”
Not everyone has been excited about the new health care law and the enrollment deadline.
“A lot of people still are doubtful about what they may have to pay, and just trepidation in general of trying something new,” said Tyler Clark, development manager at Community Clinic.
Officials have warned that if people do not get health insurance, they will be penalized.
“They will be assessed a penalty of $95 per person in their household, or 1 percent of their annual gross adjusted income,” Clark said.
Some health agents have made it a priority to explain the options.
“Once they really understand what their premiums will be when they factor in their advanced premium tax credit and factor in their cost sharing subsidies, about 60 to 70 percent of the people are surprised that their premium is lower than they ever thought was possible,” Fennell said.
The White House has given extra time for those who tried to enroll before Monday’s deadline but did not finish the process due to website glitches or missing information. The government will accept paper applications until April 7.