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Monday, March 24, 2014

Get healthcare marketplace help before deadline, March 31. - By Michelle Libby



Need health insurance and now it’s the last minute before the government imposed deadline? Portland Community Health Center and The Opportunity Alliance are co-sponsoring an opportunity for community members in the lakes region to make an appointment or to walk in for assistance with navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace. The event will take place at the Windham Public Library on Monday, March 24, from 1:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is being organized by Libby Cummings.

“This is a last minute opportunity for folks to procure health insurance without an insurance tax penalty for 2014,” said Richard Wurfel, a Windham resident and volunteer for the organizations. 

When a resident has an appointment or drops in, it could take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half to select insurance from one of the two insurance carriers, Anthem or Maine Health Care Options, said Wurfel. He recommends that clients bring in their most recent tax forms or know the adjusted gross income from the tax forms, which is written in bold lettering. Also know the social security number and date of birth for all members of the family who are signing up for health coverage and what those individuals may have as income. “Come prepared to guesstimate or project what they believe their adjusted gross income will be in the 2014 tax year,” said Wurfel.  

“Most people are not aware of the money value of the tax penalty. It’s a minimum of $95 or one percent of the adjusted gross income for 2014. For a family with $30,000 AGI, that makes the penalty $300,” Wurfel said.

Anyone can obtain healthcare through www.healthcare.gov, but the process can be daunting. This is the way to take care of it with help, he said.

“There’s a lot of negative media trying to tank the whole affordable health care, but for an individual making under $20,000 there are always subsidies that are applied through the marketplace,” Wurfel said.

There are usually three volunteers ready to assist at most events. This is determined by the number of appointments that are scheduled, Wurfel said. “We prefer folks to call and make appointments. It’s better for the whole situation,” he said.

In February, 4.2 million people have signed up for their health insurance through the marketplace. In Maine almost 26,000 people have signed up as of February.  “We are seeing a real spike,” said Wurfel. “It’s up 40 percent after the President appeared on the Internet show “Between Two Ferns.”

“The intent of the ACA was to get more people insured so the cost for healthcare for the uninsured decreases,” said Wurfel.

“We are thrilled to be of assistance. We know it’s been a difficult and confusing situation for the public and we’re happy to help,” said Wurfel. “We’re just plodding along one sign-up at a time.”

For more information visit www.enroll207.com or www.mainecahc.org (Consumers for affordable healthcare) or for an appointment call 207-874-2141 ext. 5007.

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