COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - An estimated 140,000 people are already covered in Georgia, but they still made the list of most uninsured states. Because of that, the Obama Administration and local insurers are urging those who have not already applied to do so before March 31, or risk losing the opportunity and money.
Kevin Buffington, a State Farm Insurance agent says, "Basically, if you do not have health insurance by March 31st, you're not going to be able to go, and buy health insurance through the open market until November 15th."
The countdown is on to the final day of enrollment for President Obama's Affordable Care Act. An act that gives Americans two healthcare options: either choose a private or federal health plan or pay a fine. It's a dilemma Buffington says many could soon be facing.
Buffington says, "If you do not have health insurance by next Monday, you can expect to get a fine from the IRS on your taxes."
A fine of one percent of your gross income, or $95 for the first uninsured year. Contrary to popular belief, Buffington says those who do not have insurance will not be automatically enrolled in one of the plans.
"Medicare and Medicaid, the qualifications are still the same as they were before prior to the act being enacted, and to it coming into force. You're not going to just automatically fall into that plan. You have to go out and purchase health care," he explains.
The Federal Marketplace lets you compare plans and pick either a bronze, silver, gold or platinum plan regardless of your health history. And Buffington says subsidies are offered to avoid the lapse in coverage and fine.
He adds, "Most people think, 'Well if I don't have it, I'll just pay the fine and go,' but you still need health insurance. You still want to make sure that you're covered if something were to happen, and the best thing about it is that there's no qualifications for it."
At last count, 5 million Americans have enrolled in the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Obama Administration is pushing to reach 6 million by March 31. Watch News Leader Nine for the rest of the week as count down to the enrollment deadline.