Some four million people have signed up for health insurance under the new Affordable Care Act. Still, millions more are still uninsured, and the deadline to sign up is March 31st. One last big push is being made to educate people about the ins and outs of the healthcare plan.
A recent poll indicated three-fourths of the uninsured didn't even know there was a March 31st deadline. As for the ones who did know, many of them are just flat out confused or discouraged by the botched website launch.
"By March 31st of this year they need to have enrolled in one of the coverages or else the potential is that they could face a financial penalty if they are not enrolled in one of the plans," said Garry Gause, president and CEO at Brookwood Medical Center.
He says he understands the hesitation. Healthcare.gov sputtered in the beginning, and political back and forth only convoluted the matter. But the fact remains that a deadline is looming. The first step is to do your research. "Go online. There are phone numbers available. It's been very well publicized in my opinion as to where you can go to get more and better information. But making that final choice is daunting for a lot of folks," said Gause.
He says keep in mind that state-by-state difference exist. Some have chosen to expand medicaid. For some, the federal government is running the exchange. And some states run their own.
Here's what you need to know for Alabama:
"We do have the exchange. It is up and running. The governor has made the decision not to expand medicaid and I think the legislation is in agreement at this point."
Still, that does not mean Alabama's poor will be left out on the cold. "There are subsidies available for those who can't afford it. It based on a sliding scale so the less resources you have, the greater the subsidy," said Gause.
As for some businesses, the deadline has been extended.
"What the federal government qualifies as a small businesses, those folks have a one year extension on the requirements that they have to be providing coverage. Other businesses in other categories have already been given an extension so many businesses will have the opportunity to take the next year and understand the law and its ramifications."
For those businesses as it relates to the extension, the key is how many employees you have. Do you have less than 50 employees, between 50-99, or more than 100? That will help determine where you stand.