Thousands wait hours for help to sign up for the Affordable Care Act
6:14 PM, Mar 31, 2014
Thousands in the Tampa area waited until Monday to sign up for health insurance, lining up for help with fellow procrastinators.
The uninsured have until midnight to sign up or face fines from the federal government.
At the community center in Al Lopez Park, volunteers from several health care companies and agencies offered free help signing up under the Affordable Care Act. About 20 people per hour showed up for help. It took about three hours to finish the process because of the number of people looking for help and glitches with the Healthcare.gov website.
"I tried to sign up twice -- once in November, and the site crashed,” resident Carlos Spicola said. “I tried again in mid-January and in the middle of the process, before I could complete it, the site said it was taken down for maintenance. So I am trying now in person. But it seems to be the same problem."
Rachael Lugo, marketing director of Tampa Family Health Centers, a healthcare provider that helped sign up customers at its 12 locations, said simply creating an account is an important step.
“At least if we can get people registered it shows that they are in the process. It is when they are not registered and their account is not created is where there can be a hiccup,” she said.
Ignacio Falcon waited three hours to sign up and kept getting kicked off the system.
"I should have done this before,” he said. “It's the last day and everybody is trying to do the same thing."
He planned to finish registering Monday evening.
If you don't get health insurance by the deadline, you will be fined. This year $95 per person will be taken out of your federal tax refund or added to the taxes you own. The fine increases to $325 next year if you still don't get health insurance or decide to opt out of carrying it.