GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (March 31, 2014) — The deadline for enrolling in the Affordable Care Act was just hours away and technical issues blocked some users from completing the application process.
Those who want health insurance for this year were required to sign up for coverage by midnight on Tuesday.
“We’ve seen a lot of traffic in March certainly leading up to this deadline,” Michelle Fitzgerald with Cherry Street Health Services said.
On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of people took to the healthcare.gov website to enroll. The high traffic volume caused the system to crash, blocking new users and even preventing previous users from picking a plan.
“Mostly, we are seeing a lot of complications through people who can’t verify their identity,” Fitzgerald said. “There may be various reasons why you can’t identify … maybe someone with a very similar name or maybe you’re a junior or senior kind of thing … if you have immigration status that needs to be verified that also can cause just some setbacks for people.”
After trying to sign up for months on his own, Amauri Bello, a husband and father of three, came to Cherry Street Health Services to get some help from an expert. “I’m at that point right now where I’m just getting the green light so I can pick a plan, ” Bello said.
While getting some assistance, the system crashed on Bello but was up and running again within 15 minutes. That’s when he learned he was one those people having trouble verifying their identity.
“You’re required to upload additional documentation so that process takes a little bit longer,” Fitzgerald said.
While many people may not be able to finish the process before the deadline expires, Fizgerald said it’s crucial that people get started.
“You absolutely must have started the process before midnight tonight, March 31, in order to be able to finish your application and be able to complete the enrollment process,” Fitzgerald said. “If you don’t complete the enrollment process, basically without a qualifying life event, you would be locked out of marketplace insurance until November, which is purchasing insurance for 2015.”
As for people who don’t have insurance and don’t get signed up into the health insurance market place this year, it’s going to cost them come next tax season.
“When you do file your taxes in 2015, that is when you’ll prove you had health coverage for 2014,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s also where you’ll be assessed any kind of fee or penalty that you might owe.”
For people waiting to enroll in Medicaid expansion that process will begin Tuesday.
For those who need an expert to help them finish the process you can find someone in your area by clicking here.