ATLANTIC CITY - James Adams walked into a meeting Saturday at the Jethro Memorial Presbyterian Church without health insurance. Adams discovered he needed to pay only $12.47 monthly to receive coverage by the end of it.
"I feel good," said Adams, 54, of Atlantic City, who hasn't had health insurance in so long that he could not remember the last time he had it.
Adams was one of five people who showed up for a meeting organized by the NAACP New Jersey State Conference to educate people about the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, and the Health Insurance Marketplace.
A last-minute switch from St. James A.M.E. Church to Jethro Memorial played a role in the sparse attendance.
Adams, who is a member of the local chapter of the NAACP here, came with his Social Security number, his photo identification and his proof of income. Adams is retired but not eligible for Social Security yet. His low income allowed for him to be eligible for inexpensive health insurance coverage.
Denise R. Poole, Navigator Exchange Program team leader for Center For Family Services, traveled from Clementon, Camden County, to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act.
The open enrollment period lasts until March 31. Individuals, who do not have coverage by this date, may not be offered coverage under the Health Insurance Marketplace until the next open enrollment period, which is proposed to open on Nov. 15.
"The No. 1 cause for bankruptcy in the United States is medical bills," Poole said.
There are exceptions to the March 31 deadline, Poole said. Families and individuals with low income and resources who are Medicaid eligible can apply after March 31, Poole said. Those who experience a significant change in their life circumstances, such as, marriage, death of a spouse, a birth in the family, divorce, unemployment, or a move into the state, also can apply after March 31, Poole said.
The nonprofit Center For Family Services received a grant from the federal government to help with informing and educating people about the Affordable Care Act, Poole said.
Vivian M.J. Darkes, state secretary and chairwoman of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference Health Committee, said her organization will stay focused on giving people information about the Affordable Care Act even after the March 31 deadline, so that individuals will be ready to sign up when the next open enrollment period opens, if they have to wait.
Individuals who do not have health insurance coverage can reach out to a couple of different places to have their questions answered and receive more information.
The Center for Family Services can be reached at 877-922-2377.
Health Insurance Marketplace information is online at www.healthcare.gov or available by calling 800-318-2596.
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