Strong Last Minute Push Underway for Affordable Health Care Enrollment

Affordable-Care-Act-website--health-care-website--Obamacare-site-jpgby Darwin Campbell, African-American News and Issues

HOUSTON- With the the enrollment deadline hours away, a last minute push to sign up is underway.

District 18 Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is joining Community of Faith Church and local navigators to enroll participants in the Affordable Care Act Sunday to beat the March 31 deadline.

“The Affordable Care Act is delivering on the dream of quality, affordable coverage for everyone,” Jackson Lee said. “We are seeing millions more still looking to sign up and get covered.  For these Americans, for these workers and middle class families, the Affordable Care Act is upholding its promise to make health care a right, not a privilege, for all.”

The event will take place at Community of Faith Central Campus, Yates-Dixon on 1023 Pinemont Drive in Houston.

More than 6 million people have now signed up for private insurance plans under President Barack Obama’s  Affordable Health Care Act, reflecting a surge in enrollments days before the March 31 deadline, according to a the White House report.

As of March 1st, almost 800,000 Texans created an account and were deemed eligible to purchase insurance on healthcare.gov, and almost 300,000 of them actually enrolled in a plan.

The last-minute boost has exceeded the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that 6 million people would sign up in the program’s first year, down from earlier expectations of 7 million enrollees because of problems with websites used for shopping for insurance.

The Affordable Care Act, aims to make health coverage available to more of the nearly 50 million uninsured people in the United States through government subsidies to low-income households and rules prohibiting policies from excluding members due to previous illnesses.

The word has gone out throughout the city. Earlier this week, Democratic members of the Houston delegation held a press conference at the Metropolitan Multi-Services Center on West Gray Street to discuss the upcoming Affordable Care Act deadline.

During that meeting, local legislators stressed the importance of each citizen enrolling in the program to prevent penalties. Failure to register will result in fines and penalties that will rise each year.

The penalty in 2014 is calculated in two different ways–people pay whichever amount is higher.

-1 percent of yearly household income (the amount of income above the tax filing threshold, $10,150 per individual).

-$95 per person ($47.50 per person under 18 years old). The rate for families is capped at $285.

Basically, if you’re a single adult with a household income below $19,650, then you pay the $95 flat rate. If the household income is higher than that, then you pay the one percent rate.

The worst part is that the penalty keeps rising every year.

In 2015 it will be two percent of income or $325 per person. In 2016 it will be two point five percent of income or $695.

After that, it will allegedly be adjusted for inflation, according to the Department of Health.

State Representative Sylvester Turner many Texans are surprised at just how easy and affordable it is to buy insurance now.

With just four days left to enroll in a health plan, Texans need to understand that this may be their final opportunity to be covered for 2014,” he said. “There are so many people who will benefit from this law, and I want to make sure that everyone is informed as to what their options are.”

There are trained professionals are also at the Acres Homes Multi-Services Center (6719 W. Montgomery Rd and can be contacted at 832-393-4145.

Turner added that they are are working extended hours to help people shop for and purchase health insurance.

State Representative Garnet Coleman spoke about how people can get signed up.

“We are very pleased with the number of people who have already signed up for affordable coverage,” Coleman said. “We want to make sure that everyone who can benefit from the law has the opportunity to do so and we are working across the state to get the word out to Texans about what is available to them.”

Citizens can still sign up at www.healthcare.gov or find people who can help you by visiting www.localhelp.healthcare.gov or call the national help number 1-800-318-2596 at any time, or you can call the local number here in Houston at 832-393-5427.

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