JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Hundreds of Jacksonville residents now have health insurance all thanks to a special enrollment event at the Prime Osborn Center on Saturday.
It was one of the last chances locals had to sign up for coverage before the March 31 deadline.
Within the first two hours of doors opening at the Prime Osborne Center, more than 200 people packed in to sign up.
Among some of the first people to arrive was Candace McCray, who has been without insurance now for more than a year.
Once she was officially signed up, McCray celebrated her enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.
"It feels super good," McCray said.
It's been more than a year since she's had health insurance because her employer doesn't provide it. It's a tough reality that makes it difficult to afford the costly hypertension pills she relies on each month.
"I do without sometimes," McCray said. "The medicine that I do take, I try to stretch it, you know?"
Insurance agent, Melissa Story, was able to not only explain how the sign up process works, but give one-on-one attention to people to help them pick the right plan and find a subsidy they qualify for.
"She has just chosen Coventry One, the silver plan, which has a zero premium for her and of course that's based on her age and her income and her family size," Story said. "It also has a zero deductible with a fifteen hundred dollar maximum out of pocket expense."
McCray is one of hundreds of locals who sorted out their options, premiums and questions before the March 31st deadline, in front of more than 30 navigators, agents and volunteers.
Under the ACA, everyone is required to have health insurance or is subject to a pay a tax penalty.
For organizers like Tony Penna, it provides one stop shopping, and for many, a sense of relief.
"A lot of the people walking through the door have no concept of what insurance is," Pella said. "They don't know what a deductible is, they don't understand what a co-pay is. So the process of meeting with a person, really helps clear up those answers."
While McCray knows she has a 30 day wait until her coverage fully kicks in, the comfort in knowing she can afford the medicine she's had to go without for so long, is almost unbelievable.
One important reminder if you don't enroll for coverage by March 31st, you'll have to wait until the next enrollment period, which starts November 15th, to sign up.
For those who couldn't make it to Saturday's event, there are three other enrollment service events scheduled for next weekend.
Saturday, March 29th the events will take place at Southside Middle School, Shiloh Baptist Church and Gateway Mall.
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