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Affordable Care Act deadline today
Today is the deadline to sign up for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare". Open enrollment ends at midnight. Most Americans who are not covered either by private insurance or an ACA account face a tax penalty if they miss today's deadline. But all you have to do to avoid a penalty is start to sign up today.
The administration says at least six million people signed up as of last Friday. People who tried to enroll through Healthcare.gov this morning ran into problems with the website. It was shut down for at least four hours but is now back up and running.
Local health clinics say they've been inundated with people who need help signing up for health insurance in time. At the Escambia Community Clinic on North Palafox street there's still a lot of confusion and frustration over the Affordable Care Act.
"It's been so difficult to fully sign up," said a graduate student named Trey, who wouldn't give his last name.
Trey started the enrollment process in October but has yet to finish it. He says he's having trouble submitting some crucial documents through Healthcare.gov and hasn't been able to get the help he needs.
"When you call the number," Trey said, "You leave your number and they say they'll get back with you in five to seven days, but I have yet to have anybody get back with me."
Alisha Pogue says she's put off signing up for insurance because she's overwhelmed and intimidated by the process.
"It's very confusing," Pogue said, "You know, one thing says this, the other says...It's very complicating."
But Pogue has been able to get help at the Escambia Community Clinic, which has navigators trained to guide people through the process.
"They're really good at assisting and answering questions," Pogue said.
"Wednesday through Friday we've had about 400-450 calls a day," said Don Turner, the clinic's executive director.
He reminded us that anyone who starts an application by today but can't finish it will get extra time. It's unclear, though, how long that extension will last.
"I think that people shouldn't panic," said Turner.
Authorities with Escambia Community Clinics say they'll continue to provide help with the Affordable Care Act and a lot of other medical issues as long as it's needed.