With deadline looming, people rush to sign up for Obamacare

Tiffany Metts , a navigator with Resources for Human Development, helps John Brannigan, a Mayfair bricklayer, apply for health insurance. MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer
Tiffany Metts , a navigator with Resources for Human Development, helps John Brannigan, a Mayfair bricklayer, apply for health insurance. MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer
Posted: March 31, 2014

PHILADELPHIA After spending about an hour entering information on the Obamacare website with the help of a specially trained navigator, Willaree Simon had health insurance for the first time in a year.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," she said, turning to hug Laura Line, her guide through the process. "Now I can sleep."

"You're the reason why we do this," Line said.

Simon was among dozens of people who went to the Free Library's Central Branch on Saturday to get help signing up for coverage. With the first enrollment period for Obamacare ending Monday, she was part of a nationwide wave that has pushed the number of newly insured past six million.

Simon had a familiar story among those lined up inside the library: She had tried to sign up over the phone, but got frustrated with the process.

John Brannigan, a bricklayer from Mayfair, went to the library at the urging of his wife.

"I'm not too good on the computer," he said. "There was no one around to ask."

He left "extremely happy" with the health and dental policy he chose for $180 a month.

Although the sign-up period officially ends March 31, it will be extended for people who have started an application - a recognition of the glitches that have marred the healthcare.gov website and frustrated users since it was unveiled last year.

Line, who works for the Philadelphia-based nonprofit Resources for Human Development, said the website has worked well recently. "There's a lot of volume right now and sometimes there's hiccups," she said. "But I'd say I've been able to seamlessly enroll people."

Resources for Human Development, which has the largest federal "navigator grant" in Pennsylvania, has been hosting enrollment events around the region.

"Oh, it's picked up," said Caroline Picher, one of the navigators. "The last two days have been insane, and I've worked every day this month."

The nonprofit plans to hold an event Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Montgomery County Treasurer's Office in Norristown, and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday at the Shoprite at 2800 Fox St. in Hunting Park.

For Simon, who works for the Upper Darby schools but who couldn't afford the health insurance, being enrolled means no longer living in fear of getting sick.

"I am superhyped right now," she said. "I feel like a burden has been lifted off my shoulders."


tgraham@phillynews.com

215-854-2730 @troyjgraham

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|