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Medical

Area residents line up to consult ‘navigator’

Event at Main Library draws more than 100

  • 24n3health-1

    Tommie Dean of Toledo explores options with navigator Andrea Vasquez Monday at the Main Library downtown. The navigators are off today and Wednesday. Web site sign-up will be available. The navigators return to work on Thursday.

    <THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
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24n3health-1

Tommie Dean of Toledo explores options with navigator Andrea Vasquez Monday at the Main Library downtown. The navigators are off today and Wednesday. Web site sign-up will be available. The navigators return to work on Thursday.

THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
Enlarge | Buy This Image

More than 100 local residents lined up to speak with a health-care “navigator” at the Main Library on Monday for what was supposed to be the last day to sign up for an insurance plan for coverage to begin on Jan. 1.

Late in the afternoon, however, the Obama Administration changed the deadline and gave consumers one more day to enroll.

But Toledo-area residents who didn’t make it to Monday’s event at the library but want to sign up will have to do so on their own by using the federal Web site. The local navigators, who were trained to help the uninsured through the process of selecting a health-care plan, are off for the Christmas holiday and not working today, said Brad Clark, project director of the Neighborhood Health Association’s navigator program.

The agency’s 16 trained health-care navigators, along with six navigators working for CareNet, have been present for the last month at different community events, enrolling people in insurance plans.

“They are off on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but will be back working again on Thursday,” said Mr. Clark.

Julie Bataille, director of the Center for Medicaid Services’ office of communication, said the official deadline for signing up for Jan. 1 coverage remains Monday. But she said they wanted to ensure people who tried to enroll Monday had a “fail-safe” if they met delays because of high demand on the healthcare.gov Web site.

The new deadline is 11:59 p.m. today.

In Toledo, Mr. Clark said Monday’s sign-up event was the largest ever as people who had procrastinated rushed to meet face to face with a navigator before the deadline.

“For those that didn’t make it here, the bottom line is you still need health-care coverage, and you still have time to sign up,” he said. “March 31 is the official deadline when you will receive the penalty, but if you sign up before Jan. 15, we’ll get you coverage starting Feb. 1.”

Mr. Clark said the next step is for users to make their first monthly payment to the insurance company. He said many consumers don’t realize that their health insurance coverage will not begin until the insurance company receives that first payment.

Under the Affordable Care Act, most adult Americans under age 65 will be required to have health insurance by April 1 or face a fee of $95 or 1 percent of their annual income, which would be assessed when they file 2014 taxes.

The fee increases every year. In 2015, it’s 2 percent of income or $325 per person. In 2016 and later years, it’s 2.5 percent of income or $695 per person.

After that it is adjusted for inflation.

More information and appointments with navigators in Lucas, Erie, Sandusky, and Wood counties are available by calling 419-214-0043 weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In other northwest Ohio counties, the number is 1-800-648-1176.

Contact Marlene Harris-Taylort Marlene Harris-Taylor at: mtaylor@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.

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