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People now shopping for affordable health care

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas --Thousands of people in the Borderland are now going online and shopping for affordable health care.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the online marketplace opened Tuesday morning. People can access the marketplace by visiting www.healthcare.gov.

The site was so busy Tuesday, the system went down.

"I mean it's the first day. Maybe there's a lot of individuals that want to access it and they're going to be holding up traffic," said Rosalva Hernandez, a site navigator with Project Amistad.

The site is predicted to remain busy. Between now and Jan 1, the 225,000 uninsured people in El Paso will be required to pick an insurance plan. Anyone unsatisfied with their current plan may also browse the marketplace.

With about 50 insurance companies and countless plans on the website, some people may be intimidated. Hernandez said that people shouldn't be.

When people first log on, "you can click... 'apply,''" said Hernandez.

Then follow the instructions. Be prepared to answer some very personal questions.

"What it asked for was my name, my address, my social, income, my household information," said Hernandez.

Hernandez said people should set aside 30 to 45 minutes to answer questions. Once the questions are all answered, the system will then chose a variety of plans that would best suit the user.

Open enrollment runs until the end of March 2014. If someone doesn't have insurance by then, officials said they'll be out of luck until the next open enrollment period and they will also face a penalty on their tax return of 1 percent of the person's household income, or $95 per person, which ever is higher.

 

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