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Affordable Care Act Deadline

March 14, 2014, 6:23 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Affordable Care Act Deadline

If you don't have health insurance, you only have a couple weeks left to sign up before the March 31st open enrollment period ends.

Right now, South Dakota has some of the lowest enrollment numbers on the Marketplace in the country.

As a certified application counselor, Russell Boynton answers people's questions about enrolling in the health insurance Marketplace. Over the last few weeks, he's seen a dramatic increase in calls.

"I have been having regularly steady back-to-back interviews for the past several days," Boynton said.

Still, out of the 118,000 eligible South Dakotans, only around 7,000 people have picked a plan under the Marketplace. That's the second lowest number in the nation.

"There could be a number of reasons for this. One of those I think is that there are a lot of misperceptions in South Dakota. There's been a lot of misinformation that has been spread," Mike Fierberg from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said.

One misconception some people have is that they're not eligible for insurance through the Marketplace.

"Even the people who aren't eligible for financial assistance are eligible to go pick a plan. Essentially the only eligibility requirements are that you be a U.S. Citizen or be in the U.S. Legally," Fierberg said.

If you are interested, Fierberg says you should log onto healthcare.gov and look at the different plans available. You can also get help from people like Boynton.

"We want everyone who is uninsured to be insured," Fierberg said.

The deadline to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act is March 31st, but Fierberg says the sooner you get signed up, the better.

"Let's be honest. Human nature being what it is--the last week is going to be crazy. I would expect the last week there will be pretty long waits on the phone line. There may even be times when the website, which is working just fine now, simply is overwhelmed with the number of people trying to get on simultaneously," Fierberg said.

Which is why Boynton expects a busy couple weeks.

"My calendar is starting to get pretty packed here, but we do have quite a few availabilities even in the short-term to get coverage either for April 1st or May 1st," Boynton said.

If you would like more information about the Affordable Care Act or Medicare, you can hear from national experts on this weekend's Inside KELOLAND.

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