Deadline to Enroll for Obamacare Approaching, Local Numbers Low

Deadline to Enroll for Obamacare Approaching, Local Numbers Low
By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

There are less than three weeks left to enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act but the numbers are not what advocates hoped for. The numbers, locally, are only in the hundreds. 

There's not just one reason for low enrollment in the Affordable Care Act. Many have common misconceptions and others who try to enroll might have missed some red flags.

As the deadline of March 31 quickly approaches, enrollment numbers for Obamacare are lower than expected.

"It's picking up but it's not picking up at the pace we were expecting it to," Irene Schwaninger, Licensed Federal Navigator for Project Amistad, said. 

This applies especially within the Hispanic community, which actually makes up the largest group of uninsured in the U.S.

"The computer might put some people off, or they might not be as comfortable or as tech-savvy, which is why navigators are here so we can sit down face-to-face and be able to navigate that website," Schwaninger said.

A local group, Project Amistad, helps residents find health care free of charge. With only 19% of the population actually looking for health insurance, they feel some misconceptions might be to blame.

"A lot of people are hesitant to come because they don't want Obamacare, but [the card] doesn't say 'Obamacare.' We've had some people think that [Obama's] picture is going to be on the card and that's not the case. It's Blue Cross Blue Shield, it's Aetna, it's First Care, it's whatever your family selects," Schwaninger said.

Some might also think that Obamacare is a free government program.

"That's not necessarily true because it is income based. So if you get a tax credit, the government will pay a portion of your fee but you may still be responsible for whatever that remaining balance is," Schwaninger said.

Also be on the lookout for scams.

"No navigator will come knocking on your door. That's actually against the law. It's in our training that we're not to go door-to-door. We are not to solicit," Schwaninger said.

It's important to note if you miss the enrollment deadline, you will have to pay a fine when filing your 2015 taxes. If you have any questions or wish to enroll for the Affordable Care Act, we've have all the information you need to know about Project Amistad.

Click here for more information.