Obamacare deadline extended, locals wait to enroll - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Obamacare deadline extended, locals wait to enroll

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

One of the Obamacare deadline has now been extended through Tuesday. That's because so many last minute enrollments are overloading the government web site.

There are around 45,000 uninsured people in Hamilton County alone, and trained local helpers say many of those who are required to enroll, have also waited until now to start the process.

The one-day extension buys some time, but local Affordable Care Act Navigators say there's no way everyone in our area who's required to sign up will be able to in time to have health coverage that starts January 1. But they want people to know, you still have a few months, before you face government fines for not having insurance.

"Everybody calls wanting an appointment today and I am booked out until the second week of January," Affordable Care Act Navigator Nancy Ridge said.

Ridge has back to back appointments at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society, where she walks uninsured people through the process of enrolling for health coverage with so-called 'Obamacare'.

It started out an answered prayer for many of Hamilton County's uninsured...

"It's hard to get to doctor appointments when you don't have insurance," Hamilton County resident Deloris Fitch said in an October 1 interview.

But the road to getting insured has been a rocky one due to problems with healthcare.gov. Though Ridge says the site has been working well this month, Monday's last minute rush made it impossible for some to meet the midnight deadline.

"Today the system kicked us out. There's just lots of people trying to meet that deadline. It's just overloading the system," Ridge said.

The Obama administration had said the site could handle the increased demand, but by Monday afternoon, it was clear it couldn't. The deadline was pushed back one more day. Ridge says even if you can't complete the process today, get yourself ready for when you can.

"If they're not able to get enrolled today, you can go online and you can actually look at the plans and you can see if you're going to qualify for a premium tax credit and some assistance from the government," she said.

They've assisted around 50 people so far this month. They say most people are relieved once they get the process over with and learn what it's costing them.

Again, if you want to get coverage that starts at the beginning of this year, your deadline to signup is now December 23 at midnight. President Obama said on Friday one million people had enrolled.

You have until the end of March to get your coverage in place before you face government fines.

If you're still unsure of your options, trained local helpers are stationed at the following locations in Chattanooga:

- Southside Community Health Center, 100 E. 37th St.

- Dodson Avenue Community Health Center, 1200 Dodson Ave.

- Metropolitan Ministries, 1112 McCallie Ave.(across from Warner Park)

- Chattanooga Hamilton County Medical Society, 1917 E. Third St.

- Homeless Health Care Center, 717 E. 11th St.

- Children's Urgent Care, 910 Blackford St.

- Erlanger Health System, 975 E. Third St.

- Hamilton County Health Department general information, 209-8375

The organization Enroll the Region travels to different sites throughout Chattanooga. Organizers can be reached at (423)509-1939 or by emailing Enrolltheregion.2013@gmail.com.

To enroll yourself, call 1-800-318-2596 or go to www.Healthcare.gov

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