South Shore residents got last-minute help signing up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act on Sunday, March 30, at Zakat Foundation of America Community Center Chicago (ZFCCC). The next day, March 31, was the last day to sign up for health coverage under ACA and get coverage in 2014.
Health care navigators were on hand to answer questions and help with the online enrollment process. One person took home a paper application because healthcare.gov was slowed by high traffic, but Sharon King, ZFCCC staffer, said the navigators made it possible for everyone else who showed up to enroll.
“The navigators were wonderful,” Ms. King said. “A lot of people didn’t have an email address so the navigators helped them create one so they could apply for insurance. They were really great, getting everyone signed up and on their way.”
More than 30,000 uninsured residents of South Shore and surrounding neighborhoods had yet to sign up for insurance under the ACA in the week preceding the deadline.
“We know that 16,000 people in this neighborhood are eligible for Medicaid, and 10,000 can get tax credits towards private insurance,” said Laila Muhammad, ZFCCC Director. “But many of those who need insurance do not know where to go or who to ask for help to sign up.”
ZFCCC regularly offers community health programs such as blood pressure and diabetes screenings, quarterly health fairs that focus on preventative physical and mental health, a food pantry, a community garden and participation in the Summer Seamless Food Program. But further ACA assistance will not be available this year.
Ms. King said on March 31, as more than 2 million Americans attempted to beat the 2014 enrollment deadline, “Everyone is trying to get in because if you don’t have it in today you can forget it.”