Health care events draw crowds deadline nears

Events held in Jacksonville to help people sign up for health care

By Chris Parenteau - Reporter , Marques White - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The deadline is just over two days away to sign up for health care coverage.  In the last week, health care navigators have seen a huge increase in the number of people making appointments for assistance signing up. 

On Saturday morning, one of the final enrollment events in Jacksonville drew a huge crowd.  The event took place at Southside Middle School.

As Andrea Wards finished her health care enrollment, she said a burden was lifted off of her shoulders knowing that dealing with her asthma will now be much easier.

"Thank God it's under control, but it tends to act up once in a while and knowing that I now have coverage is a big relief for me," said Wards.

Wards had started the enrollment process on her own, but ran into some problems. She knew she needed to make it to one of this weekend's enrollment events so that she could get all of her questions answered.

"I'm glad I was able to do what I could do, and I'm glad that she could finish it up for me," said Wards.

"We hugged at the end. Most of the time, that's what we do. We get a big old embrace and everyone claps. We are very excited about it because for people, this can be life changing," Pam Denson with Healthcare Navigator said.

At Saturday morning's event, there were almost 60 people waiting when things got started at 10 a.m.  The process moved smoothly for those that were there early trying to make sure they beat Monday's deadline and avoided the penalties for not signing up.

Another enrollment event will take place at the Gateway Mall from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

The Obama administration has given an extension to Monday's deadline only to people who have started the enrollment process then.

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