Health care deadline, penalty looming - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Health care deadline looming, penalty expected if you don't have coverage

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The clock is ticking and time is running out to sign up for federal health care.

This past Saturday was the deadline to get coverage by March 1. The next deadline, March 31, is the last chance to sign up this year.

"Every time I call, they give me the same answer, that they can not tell me anything," said Kay Young, who has been trying to get federal coverage since September. She's battled problems with the website, gone back and forth with people over the phone and finally found help at Chesterfield Towne center with independent agents.

"We are a service to the community, because a lot of people can not navigate this site. The site is not a easy site to navigate," said independent health broker Cindy Cochran.

"I've seen user names be rejected, emails they don't like, certain emails if you have an email account with MSN, Hotmail, and some Yahoo depending on how you have it worded they are automatically rejected," said another broker, Sharon Elliot.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports nearly 70,000 Virginians have enrolled in government health plans and a little over 3,000,000 have signed up nationwide.

If you don't have health care by the deadline, then you will have to pay a penalty. It will come out of your 2014 tax return.

"Anybody that does not have health care is going to have a fee. It's one percent of your total gross earnings in that household," Cochran said.

The service that Cochran and Elliot provide is free to the public. After four months of obstacles, that free help paid off for Kay Young. Her healthcare coverage will start in March.

"They need to go to an agent, because the agent can help them more, because if I didn't have Sharon, I don't know what direction to go to," Young said.

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