What options remain for health care signups?


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – People rushing to sign up for health insurance who didn't meet the midnight deadline Tuesday may be wondering what options they have now to get health care coverage.

Seven million people across the country have signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but some trying to beat the deadline reported having problems with the healthcare.gov website. People even said they had website issues Tuesday.

So what can people do if they're still trying to get coverage?

Some of those people who had issues signed up using a paper application. Some signed up using the help of agents at the First Coast Multi-Lines Agency.

For those people who don't have insurance yet, they still have a few more options.

Richard Bailey had problems signing up for health care coverage.

"(It was) aggravating, very aggravating," he said. "I mean, it seems as soon as you get in and then you get going where you're in a good location, you just get locked out and you have to start all over."

Agents say the calls and emails for help have been nonstop at First Coast Multi-Lines Agency. The agents are telling people what they can do if they still want coverage.

People can log onto healthcare.gov and click on an option that says they were trying to sign up for coverage before the March 31 deadline.

"If you do that and go to the site where you were having problems enrolling, you can click there and there will be a form you can fill out," said Mincy Pollock, of First Coast Multi-Lines Agency.

Agents recommend that people seek out help so they can get proof that they tried to sign up, which may assist them if they have issues getting coverage later.

"It's important to have a paper trail because they're looking to know if you really made an earnest effort," Pollock said.

Carolyn McClanahan, a physician and financial planner, is glad so many people have coverage. She said now that people have signed up for coverage, insurance premiums could go up.

"We are going to have a bunch of new people in the system that will be accessing the health care system, and if it's all sick people, then the cost of care is going up," McClanahan said.

Meanwhile, people like Bailey can't wait to get their coverage.

"I'm on medication, high blood pressure medication, so I'm going to need the insurance to make
sure I stay alive," he said.

If you need assistance, agents at First Coast Multi-Lines Agency say it is best to find some sort of agency to help you out. It is open at 521 N. Liberty St., or you can log onto its website at www.FCMA.us. Help is free.

People who make less than $11,600 don't qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Those people are best trying to get help from a community health center.

People who don't sign up by the deadline will be fined $95 or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater. That money will come out of their tax returns.