Local help available for Affordable Care Act deadline

The deadline is fast-approaching, but Houstonians can get assistance in signing up for health care
March 31, 2014 2:36:08 AM PDT
The Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) will extend the business hours late into the night at six centers Monday, giving uninsured people a last chance to enroll in a health plan before the Affordable Care Act's deadline.

After March 31st those without insurance could face fines.

If you begin the application by tomorrow but don't finish, you will be able to take advantage of a grace period. The government says it will also accept paper applications until April 7.

Uninsured residents can set up an appointment for one-on-one help from HDHHS' certified application counselors at the centers by calling 832-393-5423. The counselors are able to help residents compare health plans and find one that fits their budget and health care needs.

HDHHS' centers extending hours until 10 p.m. for the enrollment deadline date of Monday, March 31, are:

  • Denver Harbor MSC, 6402 Market Street
  • Northeast MSC, 9720 Spaulding
  • Southwest MSC, 6400 High Star
  • Magnolia MSC, 7037 Capitol Street
  • Hiram Clarke MSC, 3810 West Fuqua
  • Sunnyside MSC, 9314 Cullen

HDHHS will set the last ACA enrollment appointments with its counselors for 8 p.m. Monday. The appointments are on a first come, first served basis.

Documents needed to enroll during an appointment include:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship: social security number or copy of U.S. passport for all family members
  • State residency: driver's license, housing lease or utility bill
  • Income: W-2 forms or pay stubs; unemployment or disability; social security, pension and retirement income; or copy of 2012 tax return
  • Current health insurance: policy numbers for any current health insurance and information about job-related health insurance
  • Immigration status or legal residency: Immigration document status numbers.

More than 114,000 people in the Houston area already enrolled in one of the more than 40 low-cost ACA health plans available in the region. HDHHS set up an ACA call center as part of the Gulf Coast Health Insurance Marketplace Collaborative, a group of 13 agencies helping people obtain insurance coverage through the ACA.

Certified application counselors and outreach staff with HDHHS and the other agencies in the collaborative have met face to face with more than 152,000 area residents since the enrollment period began in October. They have also reached out or distributed ACA brochures and information to approximately 538,000 people.

Uninsured residents can also sign up for a health insurance plan online by visiting HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov.

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