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Health care enrollment deadline slated for March 31

Obama Administration is allowing some extensions

Published: Thursday, March 27, 2014 11:31 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 27, 2014 11:42 a.m. CDT

As the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act for 2014 draws to a close March 31, the Obama Administration is preparing for a surge of signups through the weekend.

Under the Affordable Care Act — more commonly known by its nickname Obamacare — Americans who are not signed up for health insurance for more than three months are subject to a tax penalty.

Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa ACA Navigator Dara Rasavanh said all of their enrollment events are booked through March 31, but encouraged individuals to set up their initial profile.

Officials said as long as individuals start the process of signing up before the deadline, they can complete the process after March 31. To signify an attempt to enroll, there is a blue box that can be checked on HealthCare.gov.

“At least if we cannot bring them in, we can direct them to begin the process,” Rasavanh said.

Officials said the government will not try to determine if someone who checked the blue box actually needed assistance signing up for health care or if it was just a way to extend the deadline.

Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa has two full-time website navigators and five part-time workers setting up face-to-face appointments to help people sign up for health care.

According to White House officials Monday, more than 1.1 million people visited HealthCare.gov, the website’s second largest traffic day.

“The website was doing well until about two weeks ago (because of the heavy traffic),” Rasavanh said. “It could take up to 15 minutes before the screen comes back on. If that happens to people, just don’t leave the spot, it will eventually go to where you clicked to go.”

The reason for the extension is to ensure anyone who needs help signing up because of special circumstances and complex cases will have the opportunity to receive assistance without being rushed because of the close of open enrollment.

“Don’t be anxious or get frustrated,” Rasavanh said. “We have a lot of people coming in that are afraid of the penalty, but there are many exemptions we can help them work out.”

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