Obamacare signup session at Elkhart library draws steady crowd

Problems with the exchange website hamper efforts to help, though.

Posted on March 31, 2014 at 12:15 p.m.

ELKHART — A steady flow attended a session Monday, March 31, meant to provide help to those still hoping to sign up for health care coverage via the Obamacare marketplace exchange.

Monday had been set as the deadline to enroll in insurance plans, creating a rush of people trying to sign up in recent days. But the Obama Administration eased the date last week, giving those who have signed up for an account and started the application process as of Monday until April 15 to enroll.

Still, complications emerged, throwing a monkey wrench in the process. The website used to set up accounts, www.healthcare.gov, received a rush of users Monday and some weren't immediately able to complete the process, said Patty Gremaux, an Elkhart General Hospital outreach rep helping out at the Elkhart session.

Accordingly, Menessah Nelson of Heart City Health Center, also assisting at Monday's event, said she was writing letters for would-be applicants, attesting that they tried to start the application process. The hope is that the letters will serve as proof that the individuals tried to start the enrollment process on time, giving them until April 15 to complete the process.

Gremaux and Nelson kept busy helping people at Monday's event as others sat awaiting assistance. Similarly, heavy demand for help at a session on March 24 kept information seekers lined up.

The individual mandate of Obamacare, more formally known as the Affordable Care Act, requires individuals to have coverage or risk fines, though there are exceptions. Coverage offered on the exchanges is geared to part-time workers and those without employer-provided health care, among others.

Nelson called the new April 15 date a "soft" deadline, which means the date could be extended even further.

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.


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