Brisk pace for midstate health sign-ups Monday

Staff reportMarch 31, 2014 

People will procrastinate, and plenty of them across Middle Georgia put off signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

About 84,000 people across the midstate don’t have health coverage, and many of them were scrambling to sign up by Monday’s deadline.

It’s impossible to say how many of those thousands registered on Monday or in the days leading up to the deadline, said Tammy Allen, a navigator for Georgia’s 11-county midstate region. But the number of contacts Monday -- phone calls and more -- was brisk.

For the past six months, Allen has made several trips a week to Macon, Warner Robins and other locales -- to churches, clinics and libraries -- to explain provisions of ObamaCare and help people sign up. She dealt with more than 700 people during that time.

It all was a challenge -- both getting people to understand the law’s provisions and getting them to sign up for coverage.

In one recent gathering, 16 of 20 people in the group still “didn’t even know how to get started,” she said.

Some days she’d reach 10 people. Some days fewer. Taking an hour or more to help one person sign up on HealthCare.gov wasn’t unusual.

“The magnitude of this effort is unbelievable,” said Allen, whose district includes Bibb, Houston, Peach, Monroe, Jones and six other counties.

Although March 31 was the last day to sign up officially, the government will accept paper applications until April 7, and that’s what Allen advised Middle Georgia residents to do. People without health insurance will pay a tax of at least $95 per adult or 1 percent of a person’s salary.

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