Deadline looms for ACA health insurance sign up

Deadline looms for ACA health insurance sign up

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The clock is ticking as the deadline nears to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Monday is the last day those without coverage can sign up before getting penalized by the IRS.

"The peer pressure is on to make sure that you have coverage," said Shelli Quenga, director of programs for Palmetto Project.

Those who sign up for health insurance before the end of the day Monday will be able to have coverage on May 1st.

Quenga said, "If they don't have insurance and they don't sign up, then they actually have to wait for coverage to start until 2015, so they're putting it off until next year."

Quenga and other health care navigators from Palmetto Project have been matching people with the right health plan.

"We've been working on coverage for the uninsured for about 15 years now," said Quenga.

The organization has partnerships throughout the community.

Quenga said, "Including the Charleston County Public Library system, so we've been able to have navigators stationed at different branches of the library throughout Charleston County since November."

Quenga says you will be fined by the IRS for not having health insurance before the deadline.

"The penalty is $95 per adult or 1% of your income, whichever is greater. It will go up, so in 3 years it will be $695 per adult and 2.5% of your income," said Quenga.

According to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, six in ten of the uninsured don't know about the deadline on March 31st.

The study shows that when those without insurance are reminded about the deadline, half say they plan to remain uninsured.

"It breaks our heart when we hear from people who say, I'm uninsured and I had this horrible thing happen to me and I don't know how I'm going to pay for it. It's a high reason for bankruptcy in our country, which we wouldn't have to have if people had insurance," said Quenga.

There's a special enrollment period after the March 31st for people who have run into problems trying to enroll before the deadline.

The next open enrollment will begin in November.

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