Handling health insurance: Signing up and getting started
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
A protest organized by the Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center held a funeral for the uninsured in response to the decision to kill the InsureTN plan.
"We chose to represent this with a funeral procession because this is a very, very serious situation and this vote is literally going to kill people," said Beth Foster, co-director of Mercy Junction, "And we just want to remind people of how serious it is when we deny health care coverage to people."
Mercy Junction Ministries and other protestors hope their symbolic funeral brings attention to the 280,000 people who will no longer get the chance to sign up for health insurance with InsureTN.
"This is people who work for minimum wage, there's 17,000 veterans included in this pool, this is college student who don't have access to insurance through a parent's plan."
Last week, legislators killed the governor's plan to expand medicaid-- called "Insure Tennessee."
This week, local health insurance advisors are set up in a mobile sign-up center at Northgate Mall for people who still need health insurance.
People can sign up for an account and navigate through paperwork with the help of an advisor.
"We see if they qualify for assistance," said heath insurance advisor Chelsea Winfrey, "If they do we'll get them into a plan, complete the subsidy application and if not we try to find some other ways to get them some assistance."
Advisors urge the uninsured to create an account on www.healthcare.gov before it's too late to sign up. If not, some of them risk being fined.
Anyone uninsured after Feb.15th, that's this Sunday, will face a penalty of $325 per person or two percent of your annual household income, whichever is higher.
And that person will be uninsured for at least another year.
"That's what people are really struggling with," Winfrey said, "Once we get them into that account we can roll through the applications pretty quickly and get them out the door with a health insurance plan that really suits them."
Supporters of the governor's plan still hope there's a chance it happens, it would cover those who make too much for medicaid but cannot afford the other healthcare.gov options.
"We would like to see Insure Tennessee revisited and we would like to see healthcare available to everyone," Foster said.
Foster and other protesters ended the funeral procession at Senator Todd Gardenhire's business office off Broad St.
The senator was one of seven who voted no on InsureTN last week, and he sent Channel 3 a statement saying, "I am glad that in america we have the ability to express our opinion or even to engage in a publicity stunt such as this one."
He goes on to say he voted the way he did because the cost was too much in the long run and the plan was just not sustainable.