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As Obamacare deadline approaches, thousands are left without insurance

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- Monday is the deadline to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and avoid penalties, but many people who tried to enroll for coverage were left without any luck. 
 
Long lines filled enrollment sites, as people rushed to get health insurance by Mondays deadline.
 
We're older parents now and we have two small kids and (not having insurance is) whats scary, said Jorge Contreras.
 
Contreras went to Project Amistad Monday for help to get his wife coverage.
 
She hasn't seen a doctor since my little girl was born (one year ago), said Contreras. 
 
While Project Amistad navigators were able to help Contreras create an account and get started, his family isnt breathing easy just yet.
 
The system was down, said Contreras.
 
Like thousands of El Pasoans who tried signing up for last -minute coverage on Monday that would kick in May 1, they had no luck.
 
That is a result of the extremely large volume of people that are trying to access the website at the moment, said Roy Ortega with Project Amistad.
 
While many worried they would be slapped with the penalty of paying $95 or 1 percent of their household income, come tax time next year, Nancy Almalza of Horizon said, The system is down. So they gave me an extension so I won't get fined, and gave me another appointment. Im happy.
 
All they have to do is prove they've made an attempt to get the enrollment process started; they will receive an extension until April the 15th, said Ortega.
 
An extension is something the majority of people who went to enrollment sites, including Contreras, were granted.
 
So even though he'll have to come back to Project Amistad to meet with navigators next week, Contreras said, Im very happy because I could go home happy, because I could go home with a happy wife.
 
For people who want to file for an extension, Ortega said they will have to do so by 10 p.m. Monday or else they will face penalties.
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