Central Virginians Rush to Sign up for Health Insurance before D - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Central Virginians Rush to Sign up for Health Insurance before Deadline

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The deadline to sign up for health insurance and avoid paying penalties, as part of the Affordable Care Act, is Monday at midnight. Central Virginians are rushing to enroll with plenty of questions about the coverage they'll receive.

The Healthcare.gov website shut down for a few hours Monday morning. Those trying to enroll will still get a message at times to wait in line due to the number of people logging on.

It's been a busy day for the volunteers guiding people through the process. Sherrie Patterson booked an appointment with Enroll Virginia to learn more information and what she’s eligible for within the program.

Navigator Mary Frances Charlton guides her through the sign-up process. Charlton's deadline day was booked solid with people rushing to enroll.

“People have a lot of questions about how insurance actually works and what is covered with these plans in the marketplace,” Charlton said.

Enroll Virginia's two navigators at Charlottesville's Legal Aid Justice Center have been busy. Anybody calling its hotline ahead of Monday's deadline was greeted with its voicemail: "We are sorry, but due to the incredibly high demand for our services, we are unable to make any new appointments or return calls before the March 31 enrollment deadline."

The group estimates it has enrolled 250 to 300 central Virginians and helped many more start the sign-up process.

“It's been extended a couple weeks for people who have already started the enrollment process, but you want to start that process,” Charlton said.

The Healthcare.gov website briefly put Patterson in a holding pattern during her appointment as hundreds of thousands of people nationwide logged on to avoid penalties. But it’s an easy wait for Patterson, who’s 60 years old and has never had an individual health insurance plan.

“It'll be a new experience for me in terms of having this sort of care,” she said.

Enroll Virginia will continue helping people enroll through the extension period in April, but you have to start signing up before midnight.

Jefferson Area Board for Aging says its phones were ringing off the hook all day to reach health care counselors.


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