President Barack Obama announces today six million Americans have signed up for coverage under the Afforable Health Care Act.
One and a half million people were on the HealthCare.gov website just yesterday and we are still four days away from the deadline to sign up.
Those who are not already insured and don't sign up to be by Monday will risk a government fine in the form of a tax penalty when they file their 2014 taxes next year.
Norma Martinez has not had health insurance for nearly three years and late last year, she faced a severe medical condition, that she doesn't wish to disclose, that almost killed her.
Martinez was facing the stress about her health but her next worry was when she began receiving the medical bills.
"I was afraid I wasn't going to make it, my bills were racking up and that really scared me and I said, "Oh no what am I going to do," said Martinez.
Martinez was hesitant to sign up for coverage under the Afforable Health Care Act but with the deadline around the corner, she showed up the Benton Franklin Community Action Committee office in Pasco today to meet with a volunteer who is guiding her through the Washington Healthplanfinder website.
It's a decision that Martinez said changed her entire life.
Martinez was told she qualified for a plan that would back pay bills for up to the three months, covering most of the costs from her recent medical problem that she never thought she'd be able to pay.
"I was happy, I was crying," said Martinez. "It was a prayer answered."
Not everyone signing up today was too happy about it.
One man said with the possibility of a penalty fine, he felt forced into getting health insurance, when he hasn't been insured for the last six years.
"I was comfortable the way I have been the last five or six years," said Hyrum Jensen. "Even when I did have health coverage, it was a ridiculous deductible to have to meet."
People can sign up at waHealthplanfinder.org or HealthCare.gov.
The penalty in 2014 will be 1% of your income or $95 per adult and $47 per child in a household-whichever of the two amounts is greater.
The CAC said those who sign up should allow for a couple of weeks for things to process before their coverage kicks in.
Martinez said she's glad she made the choice to sign up today.
"I'm not sweating anymore, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me," said Martinez. "Now I can go see the doctor, I stopped seeing him because of the bills and now I'll be able to go back."
Volunteers at the CAC are working extended hours if you need help signing up.
It'll be open tomorrow until 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
There is an extension on the deadline but it's only for people who began the process of signing up and couldn't complete all of the steps because of a website error.
That extension runs through mid-April
The next enrollment period to sign up will open November 15th.
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