Furious Finish as Obamacare Deadline Looms


Medicaid Enrollment Begins Tuesday

Enrollment for the state's new Medicaid program -- known as Healthy Michigan -- begins Apr. 1 at midnight. The state recommends starting the application for the Affordable Care Act before the deadline, unless you are certain you qualify for Medicaid.

You can sign up for the Healthy Michigan Program here.

Just hours before the deadline to sign up for health insurance, volunteers for Get Covered America were as busy as ever, phoning more than 400 people to make sure they were enrolled.

"Our job is to get in contact with these consumers, and let them know that this is a historic opportunity for them to get covered and today, tonight is the deadline," said Shawn Dhanak, communications lead for Michigan's branch of Get Covered America. "We're still working up til the last minute because the deadline is today."

Americans have had six months to find a health insurance plan that meets the federal government's new standards. The government promoted its federal marketplace as a way to search for affordable plans even before the enrollment window opened Oct.1.

But much of the rush has came in the past few weeks, with deadline day no exception.

"It's been hectic," said Kathleen Johnston-Calati, lead navigator for a region encompassing Clinton, Shiawasee, Eaton, Ingham and Livingston counties. "People are finding out that, my gosh this really is affordable."

Johnston-Calati said she has personally enrolled almost 300 people over the last six months, but still received 30 calls Monday. She planned on staying late to get to as many phone calls and emails as she could.

"Some of these people don't know this is the last day," she said. "Now I don't know how that's possible but we need to find out how that's possible. How we can get more information out to people."

Monday is only the last day to start an application for the marketplace. Due to high traffic, the government has extended the deadline to fully enroll to Apr. 15, allowing those who start an application time to finish.

In total, more than six million people have enrolled for health insurance since October, according to the department of Health and Human Services. That eclipses its goal, though fewer young people have enrolled than was initially hoped. HHS reports only about 25 percent of those enrolled are between ages 18-34, much less than the 40 percent expected.

Michigan, Get Covered America says, has performed better than average. It's estimated 114,000 people in Michigan have enrolled, 12 percent better than expected.

"I'm confident there has been a surge in enrollment and young adults are getting involved," said Dhanak.


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