The open enrollment deadline to sign up for the Affordable Care Act health insurance is approaching, so the St. Clair County Health Department is offering extended hours and assistance.
"We want to give everyone an opportunity to have help if they need it to access the Marketplace or if they want to sign up for Medicaid," said Robin Hannon, the director of personal health services for St. Clair County. "To meet he public demand, we're trying to be open as many hours as we can be"
If you register by the March 31 deadline, your coverage will begin May 1 and you will avoid paying a possible penalty fee. People without health insurance may be forced to pay a penalty fee or either 1 percent of yearly household income or $95 per person per year, according to healthcare.gov.
The St. Clair County Health Department is open for enrollment from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. March 24-28 and March 31. Additionally, the Health Department will open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the next two Saturdays, March 22 and 29. Specially trained counselors will be on site to assist and answer enrollment questions.
More than 113,000 residents enrolled in the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace as of March 11, the most recent statistics available. The number of metro-east residents who signed up was not available.
Enrollment for Medicaid will continue all year.
The St. Clair County Health Department is located at 19 Public Square, Suite 150 in Belleville. To make an enrollment appointment, call 618-825-4430; walk-ins also are welcome.
The Madison County Health Department offers walk-in appointments from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at 101 East Edwardsville Road in Wood River. To find more Madison County locations for Affordable Care Act sign-up assistance, contact Kara Hughes at 618-296-6098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, Southwestern Illinois College has a free health insurance enrollment workshop for students and the community from 4 to 9 p.m. March 26 in the Belleville Campus Liberal Arts Complex Room 1200, 2500 Carlyle Avenue in Belleville. Reserve your spot at https://www.getcoveredamerica.org/events/rsvp/4jqpk/.
For more information about the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit www.GetCoveredIllinois.gov.
Contact reporter Maria Hasenstab at email@example.com or 618-239-2460.