37,000 D.C. Residents Have Signed Up For Health Insurance Through Exchange | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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37,000 D.C. Residents Have Signed Up For Health Insurance Through Exchange

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With the deadline for open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act fast approaching, D.C. officials say that 37,570 residents have signed up for health insurance through the city's marketplace.

This morning, the waiting room was full at the Georgia Avenue location of Mary's Center, a nonprofit clinic providing healthcare and social services to underserved communities. Residents speaking English, Spanish and Amharic waited to sign up for health insurance before tonight's midnight deadline for open enrollment.

Elsie Alfaro, who was previously uninsured, says that she enrolled herself and her four children "because it's a lot easier to pay premiums and see a doctor than pay a lot of money for care." Maria Gomez, the president of the center, says they've signed up 1,500 new cardholders such as Elsie since October.

"It's about saving lives, and now that people have a card they need to get a primary care provider and pay their premiums, and if the can't pay they need to go back to where they signed up and get assistance," she says.

Signups for health insurance have proceeded at a rapid clip in recent weeks: As of March 10, enrollment stood at 30,642, and has increased by some 7,000 residents since. Of those purchasing individual plans, 58 percent are between the ages of 26 and 44.

Today, many community-based organizations are signing up people for so-called Obamacare at convenience stores, libraries, recreation centers, and churches.

Last week the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority announced that enrollment would be extended for residents needing in-person help or those that have created accounts on the website but have not yet purchased plans.

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