City helps with last-minute ACA signup - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

City helps with last-minute ACA signup

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NEW ORLEANS, LA - Monday, March 31 at midnight is the deadline to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Saturday, the New Orleans Health Department made a final push to get people to pick a plan.

"My last real solid insurance, it's been 20 years," said Michael McVille, a self-employed contractor.

After two decades without health insurance, McVille was eager to pick a plan in the healthcare marketplace.

"I'm going to sign up for Obamacare. Nothing like the last minute right?," said McVille on Saturday.

"We call it countdown to 3-31, because 3-31 will be the end, and the next enrollment process will not open until November," said Thelma French, president and CEO of Total Community Action.

Certified Enrollment Counselors were on hand Saturday at Read Library in New Orleans East to help people sign up on Healthcare.gov. More than 75 people showed up for the event in just the first hour and a half.

Those who don't sign up by Monday at midnight will pay a penalty when they file this year's federal income tax return. The fee will amount to either 1% of one's yearly household income or $95 per person for the year, whichever is higher.

"For me it has nothing to do with the penalty. I don't even understand what the penalty phase is. For me it's about having a few more years under my belt," said McVille.

For other people, such as Jenny Sargent who works three part time jobs, avoiding the fee is one of the main reasons they signed up.

"I don't have a doctor yet, but I've been paying them since January," said Sargent.

French said New Orleans has the largest number of people in the South ages 18-35 who are eligible for insurance through the Affordable Care Act but who aren't signing up.

"New Orleans East has the largest number of people in that age range that have not been enrolled," said French.

It's one reason why the city's health department deployed help to the area Saturday.

"People are procrastinators. We want to wait until the end, but this is just something too important to your family," said New Orleans Director of Health Charlotte Parent. "Frankly the cost of it is less than cell phone bills in most cases, so there's really no reason not to take advantage of it."

Though McVille procrastinated signing up, he said he won't wait to see a doctor when he's finally insured.

"For the most part preventative care. There are a few health concerns that I've acquired over the past few years that I'd like to get checked for peace of mind," said McVille.

Enrollment counselors are scheduled to be available at Greater St. Stephen Ministries on Read Boulevard in New Orleans Sunday, March 30 from 12pm-3pm. Learn more at 504healthnet.org and HealthCare.gov.

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