Officials Make Enrollment Push Ahead of ACA Deadline

Linda Fersick purchased her health insurance from her husband’s former employer through the federal COBRA plan since he passed away in 2011. But the $300 premiums deterred the 64-year-old widow, who suffers from a heart condition, from seeing her doctors because she was afraid the co-pays would be too pricey.

“I felt like I was putting that $300 out for nothing,” the retiree said.

So when she came across information on the Affordable Care Act while reading AARP The Magazine in October, she immediately took action in search of a more reasonably priced plan.

“I was on the phone that day,” she said. By December, the Philadelphia native had switched to a new health insurance plan with a premium of less than a dollar per month through ACA.

“I went to the specialist last week and it only cost me $10,” she said.
Fersick, who has been putting off appointments with other physicians for several years, now plans to see her ophthalmologist to update her eye glass prescription and a joint specialist to check on her knees.

“Sometimes I have a lot of pain, sometimes I don’t have any pain,” said Fersick, who underwent surgery on her left knee in 2004 and on her right knee in 2006.

Despite Fersick’s satisfaction with her new insurance, she says many of her friends have yet to sign up through the government program.

“When I talk to people like that I say at least call and find out,” she said. “They’ve got to push themselves.”

And health care advocates are hoping Fersick’s friends, along with all those uninsured across the country, call and find out about their health care options before the open enrollment period for 2014 ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday.

“This is a historic opportunity,” said Bill England, the Pennsylvania state director for Get Covered America.

More than 6 million Americans have enrolled so far, but England says there are others who are uninsured have yet to sign up.

“If you have a deadline off in the distance, it’s human nature to procrastinate,” he said. "But having this kind of health insurance provides peace of mind and security."

Get Covered America is hosting events throughout Philadelphia over the next three days in a final effort to help the uninsured get covered.

Central Free Library Regional: Foundation Center

1901 Vine Street, 19103Saturday, 3/299AM - 3PM
Lucien Blackwell Library

125 South 52nd Street, 19139Saturday, 3/2911AM - 3PM
Q Care
(Located in the ShopRite)

2800 Fox Street, 19129Saturday, 3/2910AM-4PM
Love Zion Baptist Church

2521 North 23rd Street, 19132Saturday, 3/2910AM-2PM
Community of Compassion CDC

6148 Cedar Avenue, 19143Sunday, 3/30Noon-3PM
Healthy Living Block Party
(Cecil B. Moore Rec Center)

2551 North 22nd Street, 19132Sunday, 3/302PM-6PM
St. Elizabeth’s Community Center

1845 North 23rd Street, 19121Monday, 3/319AM-10PM
Q Care
(Located in the ShopRite)

2800 Fox Street, 19129Monday, 3/3110AM-9PM
SRA International

4109 Main Street (Manayunk), 19127Monday, 3/318AM-8PM
Urban League

121 South Broad St, 9th Floor, 19107Monday, 3/3110AM-4PM
Campaign for Working Families

1207 Chestnut Street, 4th Floor, 19107Monday, 3/3110AM-7PM

For those outside of the city, the Get Covered America website lists additional events happening in your area.

England encourages anyone who is unable to attend an event to begin their application on the website or call 1-800-318-2596.

"If the phone line is busy, you can call and leave your name and phone number and they will call you back," England said.

The Obama administration announced Wednesday that anyone who begins to enroll in a health plan online before the Monday deadline will be given extra time to finish their application.

"If you are in line to vote and the polls close, you still get to vote because you are in line," said England, echoing the remarks made by a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services spokeswoman Wednesday.

Fersick, who has an appointment to evaluate her knees Wednesday, urges others to investigate their options for themselves instead of listening to hearsay.

"If I didn't have health coverage and I thought I could get it cheap, I'd get on the phone," she said. "Call and at least find out if you can get it."

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