Time running out to buy health insurance by deadline

If you're still looking for insurance on the state's new health care exchange, you have mere hours to sign up for it.
December 24, 2013 7:09:38 PM PST
If you're still looking for insurance on the state's new health care exchange, you have mere hours to sign up for it.

The deadline is midnight, and one store that sells the insurance reported a steady stream of customers all day Tuesday.

We're told enrollment numbers in North Carolina are way up despite some lingering confusion which should come as welcome news to anyone who wants the country's new health law to succeed.

Andy Schnitzer, who runs the Blue Cross Blue Shield store in Morrisville, told ABC11 that the questions have been piling up in the past few weeks. Most people want to know what their options are.

If you want a new insurance plan that starts Jan. 1, Tuesday was your last day to sign up.

Schnitzer says generally people like what's being offered even though they may not like the price tag.

"The plans in general are being received well by most people because the ACA has made benefits more rich overall," said Schnitzer. "The people who don't qualify for subsidies are not happy about the rate increase if they move to an ACA compliant plan."

Maria Batkin has a slightly different story. She does qualify for subsidies, but thinks she'll still pay more on the exchange than she is now.

"So it's really been frustrating trying to get something I can afford," said Batkin, "and hopefully trying to keep the doctors I have, and so far I haven't been able to do that.

Batkin says she's hoping for a Christmas miracle.

Schnitzer offered a bit of Christmas cheer for others sweating the deadline, and worried about the penalties they face if they don't get insurance. They don't kick in for three more months.

"A lot of people were confused that if they didn't enroll by Jan. 1, they'd have to pay a penalty. That's actually not true. It's the 31st of March they have to enroll by," said Schnitzer.

Because the penalties kick in April, Schnitzer says they're expecting March to be a huge month, and it may have to be.

In order for the law to work, experts say 7 million people need to be enrolled and 40 percent of them have to be young and healthy to help spread out the cost.

Last week, the president announced that 1 million people had signed up -- one seventh of the way there.

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