Affordable Care Act deadline looming

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The deadline to sign up for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is quickly approaching.

Anyone who hasn’t enrolled by 11:59 p.m. this evening could face fines or potential debt in the event of a medical emergency over the next year.

There are several options to sign up. The first is by heading to healthcare.gov and follow the directions on the screen.

A 24/7 marketplace phone number is also available to walk people through the steps and answer questions. That number is 1-800-318-2596.

The final option is to schedule an appointment with a local certified health care navigator.

For those who want to sign up for the ACA, using a certified health care navigator could save money and make the overall process of re-enrolling an easier one.

For some people, the cost of the ACA is still higher than they’re willing to pay.

Kent Erhard isn’t currently insured at all and pays in cash when he needs to, he said.

“I probably need to (sign up) but I just haven’t yet,” Erhard said.

For Emily Abdallah, the cost of for the ACA is more than enrolling in Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) through her employer.

“I went with it because it was a lot more affordable than the ACA,” Abdallah said.

Some families don’t realize they qualify for money off until they seek help, according to Juven Nava, a certified health care navigator at GraceMed.

Signing up for any insurance could also save money in the long run, Nava said.

“It’s easier to save enough money to reach your deductible than to go into debt, medical debt, having to pay thousands and thousands of dollars because you didn’t have insurance,” he said.

The number of people signed up overall this year hasn’t changed much but Nava said he has seen less people in his office since President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

“I think the reason why that is, is just because consumers are thinking since the aca might get repealed that there’s no need for it,” he said.

The issue with that, Nava said, is that any changes made to the ACA wouldn’t take effect until next year, which means anyone who doesn’t sign up would be left uninsured and at risk of paying fines.

There are two ways the fines are calculated.

Anyone who remains uninsured could be fined either 2.5 percent of their household income or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, whichever fee is higher.

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