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Navigators brace for final health care enrollments

Many expected to enroll before March 31

Sunday, March 23, 2014 12:55 AM
Last updated 6:26 AM
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Angela Taylor sat across a table from Anne Fulcher and breathed a sigh of relief as Fulcher began the application that will lead to her getting health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

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Angela Taylor (left) smiles after Anne Fulcher tells her she will have to pay only 48 cents per month for health insurance. Taylor, an employee at McDonald's, will have health insurance for the first time in her life at age 43.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Angela Taylor (left) smiles after Anne Fulcher tells her she will have to pay only 48 cents per month for health insurance. Taylor, an employee at McDonald's, will have health insurance for the first time in her life at age 43.

Taylor, who will soon be a management trainee at a Mc­Donald’s in Augusta, had been worried about getting enrolled before the March 31 deadline “because I have been working all the time,” she said. “I’m better now.”

As he and others in the area prepare for the onslaught of people trying to enroll before open enrollment closes, Craige Taylor-Burton knows what he will need.

“Lots of coffee,” said the enrollment specialist at Christ Community Health Services.

Officials have said all along that they expected a large number of people would wait until the last minute to try to get coverage through the new marketplaces, based on previous insurance enrollments.

In the 2012 open enrollment season for the Federal Em­ploy­ees Health Benefits Pro­gram, 22 percent made changes in the last two days, officials said earlier this month.

Enrollment through the new marketplaces reached 5 million last week, officials said, up from 4.2 million at the end of February and nearly equaling the number enrolled the previous month. Calls to the customer service center saw their highest volume since late December, when people rushed to get coverage that would begin Jan. 1.

“When there was that deadline to have your insurance start by the first (of the year), it was ridiculous with people trying to come in and get signed up,” said Candace Lee, an enrollment specialist at Christ Community. “There was that rush. I can assume there is going to be that rush again the week of and the last day. I will say that we’re going to get a lot of phone calls.”

Terri Gant of Medical Asso­ciates Plus at Belle Terrace is already seeing it.

“There is a huge number of calls that have come in for appointments,” she said. “And most of them want one-on-one appointments.”

That is part of the problem – with only a handful of navigators in the Augusta area, the number of people who need personal help might be overwhelming.

“A lot of people also think they can’t do it on their own,” Lee said. “They really think they have to come through a navigator to do so.”

That isn’t the case, Gant said.

“The clock is still ticking,” she said. “I just don’t see us being able to serve everybody. I know there’s still quite a few people who haven’t done an application.”

Many of those showing up now are younger people who are just realizing they need to have coverage and that the deadline is fast approaching, said Fulcher, a certified application counselor with Rural Health Services Inc.

“Unless they have a parent telling them about it – or hounding them, as in the case in my household – they just don’t know,” she said.

They are not getting it from the news but by one person telling another, Lee said.

“That’s how I’ve gotten most of my appointments,” she said. “The majority of the people I’ve seen is because they passed my card along to the next person. Literally, most of the appointments and the people I’ve seen have been based on word of mouth.”

It is not that young people lack for knowledge. It is more that they are using the deadline as motivation, Taylor-Burton said.

“It takes some time for young adults to become aware and actually do something about it,” he said.

Fulcher has taken that problem head-on by going out to fast-food restaurants and other places where younger adults who likely lack insurance might be working.

“I just think going where young people are makes the most sense,” she said.

Taylor-Burton plans to go to Paine College on Monday to talk to students, but the rest of the time he and Lee will be fielding calls at Christ Community and helping as many as they can.

“We want to make sure that we can give our full focus to whoever needs the services here,” he said.

In the end, because Geor­gia did not expand Medicaid and people who would qualify for that program are ineligible for subsidies in the marketplaces, there will be many people left wanting, Lee said.

“There’s that huge gap,” she said. “There’s going to be a lot of people who fall in that gap. It is sad. I’ve had more people fall in the gap than I’ve been able to enroll, unfortunately.”

Taylor, 43, said she has never had health insurance in her life.

“I’ve heard bad things and I’ve heard some good things” about the program, she said. “A lot of people are saying it is too expensive.”

She ended up getting coverage for 48 cents a month.

WANT TO ENROLL?

The deadline to enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is approaching. After March 31, those without coverage are subject to the law’s tax penalty. Administration officials have said they won’t extend this deadline.

ONLINE: Go to healthcare.gov and click “Get Insurance,” then choose your state to be connected to a marketplace. You will create an account with a user name, password and security questions.

BY PHONE: Call (800) 318-2596 to apply or get a list of locations near you where applications are available.

Source: Associated Press

NEED HELP?

Medical Associates Plus at Belle Terrace is holding two events where people can learn more and get help. Contact Medical Associates Plus at Belle Terrace at (706) 755-9421 for more information.

MONDAY: Goodwill Job Connections, 3120 Peach Orchard Road, noon to 4 p.m.

TUESDAY: Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 402 Aumond Road, noon to 5 p.m.

Some others also are offering in-person assistance. To get an appointment, call:

• Christ Community Health Services, (706) 396-1467

• Rural Health Services Inc., (803) 593-0621

Comments (10) Add comment
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Radwaste
418
Points
Radwaste 03/23/14 - 03:25 am
4
2
Deadline? Really?

The Wall Street Journal reported that the deadline was almost silently removed!
Take a look here:
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405270230425020457943331260...

"To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty.

"This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the Health and Human Services Department didn't think the details were worth discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet. Instead, the mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to preserve some health plans that don't comply with ObamaCare benefit and redistribution mandates. Our sources only noticed the change this week."

Radwaste
418
Points
Radwaste 03/23/14 - 03:30 am
3
2
"Obamacare" Totally Fails Because...

...it does not recognize that the primary purpose of insurance is to PAY DOCTORS (not nameless "navigators" and others who DO NOT TREAT PEOPLE). If doctors had never been "stiffed" on a bill, or treatments were not actually expensive, there just wouldn't be a need for this.
The solution is to invert the model, rather than trick people into paying for services they WILL NOT RECEIVE with high fees and deductibles: http://radwasteusa.blogspot.com/2009/07/health-care-not-duty-of-others.html

myfather15
55819
Points
myfather15 03/23/14 - 04:38 am
4
3
This is typical. People

This is typical. People usually do wait until the last minute, especially when they have to get covered or face a penalty!! But that doesn't speak well of the ACA. Because if it was so spectacular, millions more would NOT have waited until the last minute; they would have signed up early to get that great coverage!!

It's kinda like Christmas shopping for men; we wait until the last minute, because we really never wanted to do it in the first place!! So we put it off until the very end. Same for the ACA!! The people waiting, never really wanted too, but now they feel they HAVE TOO!!

Again, that doesn't speak highly of the ACA!!

iaaffg
3132
Points
iaaffg 03/23/14 - 04:50 am
7
2
insurance for 48 cents a
Unpublished

insurance for 48 cents a month? who gets any kind of insurance for 48 cents a month? this just lets me know i am working to pay for the rest of her bill, just like i work to pay for section 8 housing, ebt cards and those cute little 'free' gubmint phones. another in-your-face insult to those of us who continue to pay, pay, pay out the nose for those who can go whine and moan and groan, play the 'poor' card, and get their insurance for 48 cents a month.

gaflyboy
5137
Points
gaflyboy 03/23/14 - 05:51 am
5
2
48¢/month - $5.76/annual

Why bother? It costs more than that to collect it! Even a min wage worker can pay a bit more than that.

I know! Now, not only will be free, but the recipients can say I paid ...
I paid my fair share.

seenitB4
93211
Points
seenitB4 03/23/14 - 07:17 am
5
2
48cents huh

And $250.00 a month from taxpayers...way to go giverment.:(

southern2
7038
Points
southern2 03/23/14 - 10:45 am
1
1
Enrollment in Obamacare at 5

Enrollment in Obamacare at 5 million does not equal insured. The regime continues to play the Okie Doke with the folks.

Kathleen Sebelius denies knowing how many of these have gone through the process of being insured through this pathway of healthcare disaster and government redistribution.

corgimom
36277
Points
corgimom 03/23/14 - 01:06 pm
2
1
iaaffg, do you truly think

iaaffg, do you truly think that you weren't paying for her heath care before?

corgimom
36277
Points
corgimom 03/23/14 - 01:07 pm
2
1
All she needed was one big

All she needed was one big illness or accident, then you'd WISH you were paying for her insurance.

People just don't understand- right now, the biggest health care insurance company is THE US TAXPAYER!

Radwaste
418
Points
Radwaste 03/23/14 - 09:28 pm
2
0
Chronicle. What's up?

If your article says one thing, and the WSJ says another, which one is right?

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 03/24/14 - 05:04 am
1
1
don't worry
Unpublished

The deadline will be changed again and the threats of fines will be used as scare tactics, but if you are a government dependent then you probably need to get your entitlement.

KSL
139147
Points
KSL 03/24/14 - 06:25 am
0
2
corgi

Nothing is going to change. Government subsidies??? Where is the difference except in the bookkeeping?

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