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Hoosiers hurry to meet Affordable Care Act enrollment deadline

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INDIANAPOLIS – The deadline to sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act is quickly approaching. Open enrollment ends on March 31st. If you’re confused and don’t know where to turn, there are people here locally that can help.

The lobby downtown at Ezkenazi Health is a busy place this week. All week, from 7 a.m until 4:30 p.m, navigators will assist with any questions you may have and get you through technical hurdles.

“With the deadline fast approaching, we’ve been increasing our staffing through the month of March,” said Melissa Masterson, with Eskenazi Health.

Cynthia Wright is one of those who isn’t afraid to admit, the government website has her at her wit’s end.

“Very much confusing, frustrated. It makes me want to give up, but I know I can’t because I have to have some type of insurance,” said Wright, “I just needed some help with the computer system. Back in our day we didn’t have to deal with this, so it’s new for us.”

Masterson said people have to make decisions about their healthcare coverage on their own. The government cannot force them to do it, but there are consequences if people are eligible and do not enroll.

“We can’t force customers to sign up so what we can do is provide them the information that’s available to us, which is if they don’t sign up and are eligible for coverage in the marketplace they may be subject to a penalty,” said Masterson.

Some people are aware of their coverage options but aren’t sure what to do. That’s the case for Greenwood mother, Kristi Spears.

“I’m not scared to say I’m in the poverty level of society,” said Spears.

Her daughter Annabelle is covered under Medicaid. The 17-month old had muscle problems at birth and required therapy. Spears said Medicaid denied her an appropriate health care policy, so she looked through the Healthcare Marketplace and the quote she got was $67 a month. Still, she insists that’s too much for her to pay on a fixed income but believes she will have to make it happen.

“I’m going to make a couple more phone calls. I’m going to get a hold of the Medicaid office this week, and I’m going to apply, accept the amount they gave me and figure out a way to pay for it,” said Spears.

Masterson said if you’re worried or frustrated, it isn’t too late to reach out for help, even if you don’t agree politically with the Affordable Care Act.

“I think for us it’s not about politics. It is a product that was implemented through the federal government and as navigators our task is to help people understand and get through the process,” said Masterson.

On Saturday, March 29th, Eskenazi Health will hold a special “Enroll Indianapolis” day. Hospital officials encourage anyone with questions about health care reform to come in on that day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You can also call 1-855-202-1053 for help with the Affordable Care Act. That line is monitored by Eskenazi Health staff.