Surge of last-minute signups as deadline for health coverage looms

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Healthcare.gov, the troublesome online marketplace, is back up after it went down for several hours Monday morning.

The site is now putting customers in a queue and sending email notifications when people could enroll.

Hundreds of others are expected to line up for help Monday as the deadline to enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act looms.

Central Texans who want to sign up have until Monday at 11 p.m.  The midnight deadline set by the federal government is on eastern standard time.

Maria Carreno went to the Highland Mall location of Insure Central Texas on Sunday to get help signing up for insurance.

Monday is the last day she and her 18-year-old daughter, Cristina, can start applying for insurance through HealthCare.gov.

They drove from Lago Vista to Austin for the opportunity to start applying. Then, they waited in line.

“We probably had 200 people in line this morning before we opened,” said Elizabeth Colvin, program director of Insure Central Texas, a program of the nonprofit Foundation Communities. “People didn’t understand [the marketplaces]. They didn’t understand what the Affordable Care Act meant for them and their families.”

Ronnie Green started applying on his own. He needed help Sunday getting past some issues in order to get insurance.

“[Insurance] just means that I can go to a doctor on a regular basis,” said Green.

Those wishing to sign up can file for an extension behind Monday’s deadline.  Applicants must start the process through Healthcare.gov by creating an account.  If someone is unable to finish the enrollment process they can come to one of Insure Central Texas’ four locations between April 1-7 for help.

“When they told me I had two more weeks I said, ‘Oh that’s a relief. I have a little bit of time,’” said Carreno.

“We can get to a resting point and then we can continue a little bit later on,” said Green who will have to return to finish signing up for coverage.

“I’ve just run into a few minor hiccups, but I think we’re going to smooth it all out,” said Ronnie Green who was getting signed up. “Everything’s going to be good.”

Those who choose to not sign up by midnight Monday won’t be able to get coverage in the marketplace until open enrollment starts again in November.

They will also have to pay a tax fee of $95, or 1 percent, of your income, whichever is more. However, there are exemptions.

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