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Deadline Looms For ACA Insurance Signup
It is crunch time to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act Insurance Marketplace. In a recent Associated Press survey millions either felt they can't afford it or refuse to be forced into it. But they will all pay the price if they don't sign up.
It's now standing room only for people who need help navigating the healthcare.gov insurance marketplace. And if you're planning on asking for help, they ask that you come prepared.
Insure Central Texas runs two assistance centers here in Austin. Director Elizabeth Colvin says applicants need to bring some important information in order to sign up, "They have to bring their pay stubs, their most recent tax returns. We need to figure out what your income is going to be this year."
The Affordable Care Act calls for everyone to have some kind of health insurance -- or else. The "or else" is a penalty which in most cases would be either one percent of your income or $95 per uninsured adult -- whichever is greater.
Your best bet for getting personal help with signing up is a well-staffed location like the one at Highland Mall run by Foundation Communities. We also checked out Hays County for you -- at the Communicare Clinic in Kyle they have one person who can help you. But he shares his time with a sister clinic in San Marcos, so you better call first.
If you think you can score a better deal on your own ... you can try. But Colvin warns, "You could go outside the marketplace but for many people the real benefit of going to the marketplace is the tax cuts and subsidies to help pay for insurance."
Also remember the wait will only get longer between now and the March 31 deadline.
If you miss the deadline you'll have to wait until November to sign up for next year. But there are exceptions for major, life-changing events such as losing a job, having a baby or a change in marital status (more here.)
By Fred Cantu