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The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Affordable Care Act deadline extended

JEFFERSON COUNTY - by Lauren Huet

The Obama Administration is giving people more time to sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. Now, instead of a March 31st deadline, you can ask for an extension through mid-April. It's meant for people who have already begun signing up, but can't finish before the deadline. However, officials are relying on the honor system.

Healthcare Navigators in Jefferson County say more Southeast Texans are signing up as the deadline draws near.

Gerald Comeaux didn't have health insurance when he went to the hospital for a blood clot last month.

"That kind of threw things off for me, so I was going to go ahead and see what Obamacare provided as to what kind of health coverage there is," said Comeaux.

Now he's shopping for a plan with a healthcare navigator at the Spindletop Center.

"well, to see if it's going to be affordable, because what's out there is not affordable as people would want it to be," said Comeaux.

Crystal Tucker is a healthcare navigator at Spindletop. Tucker says she's seen a big increase in people signing up this month.

"They've been telling me that they've been waiting until the last minute to kind of see how it was going to turn out," said Tucker. "What [were] the requirements, the guidelines, the things like that."

Tucker says a little more than 100 people have signed up at Spindletop so far this March.

Navigators at Gulf Coast Health Center in Port Arthur are seeing an increase as well.

"All my navigators are booked for the rest of the week except for me," said Carl Dahlquist, a healthcare navigator. "I kind of leave myself open for people that do walk in."

Ann Hawkins visited Gulf Coast to sign up for the healthcare marketplace.

"I really didn't have a plan that I liked at this point. I didn't have anything available to me, so I think in a way it can be a good thing," said Hawkins.

Dahlquist says in February, about 300 people came to see healthcare navigators at Gulf Coast, but only 25 people signed up for health insurance.

"It's not that they don't want the insurance, it's that they can't afford the insurance," said Dahlquist.

With the new extension, navigators hope more people sign-up. The next open-enrollment period will be in October, to sign up for health insurance for the year 2015.

 

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