Health insurance deadline approaches

The time to sign up for health insurance is quickly running out. Because of the affordable care act the deadline has moved. If you don't sign up by March 31st, you could be without health insurance until January.

Knoxville offered help for the enrollment process. Trained specialists were there Saturday to explain the steps to see what you qualify for. 161 people attended that session, the largest one day insurance event in the Knox area since enrollment opened in October.

It has taken some people by surprise.

"I heard about the deadline. I didn't really know about it," said Randall Carter.

It even snuck up on insurance agents.

"I have found 99 percent of people don't know," said agent Sara Ragsdale.

Jean Alexander worked in the heath insurance industry for more than 30 years. She knew the deadline for "Obamacare" was coming, but was surprised when she found out the deadline impacted everybody.

"This is absolutely unprecedented. There has never been a cutoff date for being able to buy health insurance," said Alexander.

If someone misses the deadline, they have to wait until November to enroll... and until January until their plan would kick in.

"Insurance companies have to have a set time to cut off enrollment. So they have time to figure out their risk pool and their premium charge," said Alexander.

The new rule also affects people looking to get a new plan after their current plan doesn't suit them anymore.

Carter found out the deadline and made a change as soon as possible.

"I had a heart attack. Actually a couple years ago. So it actually it really affected me when I started looking at insurance," said Carter.

George Kitts found out about the deadline while discussing his life insurance. He is a truck driver, and sees dangerous situations daily. And his previous plan had higher premiums than hoped for.

"I try to stay away from stuff and try to stay well but people are going to get sick," said Kitts.

There are a couple of qualifying life events that would open enrollment back up for you after the deadline. These include losing your job, getting in a divorce, and death of a family member or spouse.

State Farm recommends trying to see if you qualify for any financial assistance.

There are also more of sign up sessions before the deadline rolls around...head to this website for a full schedule.


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