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Area residents get extra time to sign up for health insurance

SHEIRDAN — Sheridan residents who have had problems purchasing health insurance on the national exchange will have a few extra weeks to get the task done, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Until the announcement earlier this week, the hard and fast deadline to sign up for 2014 coverage was Monday, the 31st.

“Basically, the deadline has been extended for people who have been waiting in line,” said Wyoming 211 Resource Specialist Sara Loken, indicating others who qualify for the additional exemption from the open enrollment deadline include those who have had trouble getting through the online application process or need to scan documents for the program’s identity verification process.

Loken said to qualify for the exemption, an individual simply needs to check a box on the online application that indicates they started the process before the March 31 deadline. Enrollee verifications that they should qualify for the limited extension will rely on the word of the applicant. From there, enrollees have until mid-April to compile documentation and work through technical glitches.

Wyoming residents, like others in the nation, still have time this weekend to enroll online this weekend. People who choose to forego the individual mandate will be fined either 1 percent of their annual income or $95, whichever is higher. By 2016, the penalty will jump to $695 per person or 2.5 percent of total family income.

National enrollment call centers will be functioning in full force. People that spend more than three months of a calendar year uninsured pay a pro-rated amount.

“The calls we’re getting now are last-minute problems, when something might be wrong with the application,” Loken said.

“For those problems, we have to refer them to the national call center, and their wait times are pretty high — about 20 minutes or so right now,” she said.

Loken encouraged Wyoming citizens interested in purchasing insurance for 2014 to avoid this year’s penalty to call this weekend or log on to healthcare.gov.

The most recent statistics available from HHS indicates more than 4.2 million Americans have enrolled in insurance via the national marketplace, and administrators are expecting a last-minute rush to meet the March 31 deadline.

Of people across the nation who enrolled, 83 percent qualified for some form of financial assistance in paying for their premiums. Twenty-five percent of enrollees are between the ages of 18 and 34, and 55 percent are female.

About

Tracee Davis

Tracee Davis joined the staff at The Sheridan Press in July of 2013. She covers business, energy and public safety. Tracee grew up in Kemmerer and has lived in several locations both in the U.S. and overseas. Her journalism training stems from her military service.

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