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Open Enrollment Deadline Approaching

March 21, 2014, 10:10 PM by Angela Kennecke

Open Enrollment Deadline Approaching
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

If you're one of the tens of thousands of South Dakota without health insurance, the South Dakota insurance providers on the federal exchange want you to act this weekend. 

The deadline for getting health insurance is March 31.

After its infamous start, insurance providers are worried an overload of users could crash healthcare.gov in this final week of enrollment to get insurance in 2014. 

"I think there's well over 40,000 people who don't have insurance that haven't enrolled yet, so we still have a ways to go in South Dakota," Ruth Krystopolski of Sanford Health Plan said.

Just over 8,000 people have signed up for health care coverage in South Dakota.  Those signing up in the last week will also need to pay their first month's premium to get coverage. But those premiums may be lower than people expect. 

"In the state of South Dakota about 90 percent of the people purchasing insurance are getting subsidies from the federal government," Krystopolski said.

Unless you experience a life-changing event, such as a job loss or birth of a child after the deadline, you won't be able to buy health insurance for months.

"You won't be able to get access to health insurance, even if you're willing to purchases the premium at the full premium charge; not go through healthcare.gov; go directly to one of the carriers in the state--you will be declined from coverage and you won't be able to get coverage until January 1st of 2015," Deb Muller of Avera Health Plans said.

Insurance companies say that's to keep their premiums down.

"And the best opportunity we have as insurance carriers to keep stable premiums and staying away from double-digit increases in premiums is making sure we have a stable risk pool we can manage effectively for folks," Muller said.

Taxpayers must now provide proof of insurance to the IRS on their 2014 taxes, or face a fine of $95 or one percent of their income, whichever is higher. 

Healthcare.gov is expecting a surge in enrollees this week and has ended its web chat and increasing the staff at its call centers to help people over the phone.  If you need to enroll, you can expect it to take about an hour and a half.

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