In spite of a government shutdown, today begins the six month-long enrollment period in which consumers can start signing up for health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. This morning at the Sorenson Unity Center the Salt Lake City mayor’s office and Voices for Utah Children hosted a health care open house to help people navigate the various plans and sign up for coverage.
Jose Caceres, a certified application councilor is walking a middle-aged man and his mother through the process of choosing a health insurance plan.
“We cannot steer them into any plans, so we’re just helping them walk through to see if they need to apply or submit an exemption if they don’t qualify for that," Caceres says. "We’re just helping them through the process.”
He says the most frequently asked question is “How much is it going to cost me?” But Caceres says that’s difficult to answer until people start exploring plans.
Ogden resident Anna Franks is currently uninsured. She says when her husband retired; they could no longer afford insurance. Franks has an artificial hip. She says she’s been either turned down by insurance providers or expected to pay more than $600 a month for coverage.
"It’s good to know that now an insurance cannot deny me for any medical attention and just to know that it’s less to pay hopefully under the circumstances," Franks says.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker addressed members of the press at the open house. He says 1 in 4 Salt Lake City residents are uninsured.
“I hope that for the folks in our community that we can give everybody access to affordable health care and today we launch an opportunity to achieve that goal," Beckers says.
Utah state lawmakers opted to have the federal government operate the exchange for state residents. The website for purchasing coverage is www.healthcare.gov.
Consumers have between now and December 15th to sign up for coverage that begins on January 1st.