Last minute rush to enroll under Affordable Care Act

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A last minute rush to sign up for healthcare insurance from the federal government overwhelmed the website. Monday was the last day to enroll under the Affordable Care Act. But officials said as long as you started the enrollment process before the day's end, you can still sign up.

Back in October, Coastal Family Health Center began walking people through the enrollment process for the Affordable Care Act. Since then, officials said they've helped more than 1,500 South Mississippians sign up. They said the last few days leading up to the deadline can be summed up in one word: hectic.

Often times the people who go to Coastal Family Health Center for treatment don't have health insurance. That's why clinic officials said they're dedicated to helping people in the community with the process of enrolling under the Affordable Care Act.

Danielle Davis-Polk is the Outreach and Enrollment Coordinator.

"There are so many persons who do not know how to get on the marketplace.They don't even know where to start," said Davis-Polk.

As the March 31 enrollment deadline approached, enrollment counselors began extending their appointment hours.

"As we started getting closer to the deadline, they've been piling in," said Davis-Polk. "We're getting numerous phone calls from persons wanting to make appointments, so we're making appointments and trying to get as many persons as we can in. This last day along with the last week has been extremely hectic."

The high volume of traffic to caused problems on the website Monday.

"We're doing paper applications because the system is down," Davis-Polk said. "When you call the 800 number, they are telling you they'll call you back. So you have to leave your name and number and some persons are being told it will be five to seven days before they'll hear back."

Even with the website issues, officials said people who want to enroll shouldn't hesitate to call or go online.

"There has been an extension granted as far as those person who are able to get online or those person who speak with someone today, they'll extend it out," said Davis-Polk. "That way they won't have to be faced with a penalty."

The number Coastal Family Health Center is suggesting people call is 1-800-318-2596. They said as long as you call before the end of the day March 31, you will be given the opportunity to enroll during the current window. Officials said enrollment won't reopen until the early Fall.

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