Organizations busy helping residents apply for health insurance - Montgomery Alabama news.

Organizations busy helping residents apply for health insurance

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One week from today is the deadline for signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Sonja Smith, the project coordinator with Enroll Alabama, has been hearing from people making the last minute decision to sign up.

"Very crazy. Our phones are ringing off the hook," Smith said.

Smith says there have been some problems with the federal website Still, she says some could face penalties for not securing healthcare insurance.

"If you earn over 100 percent of the federal poverty level you could incur a fine of $95 or one percent of your income per person in that household," Smith said.

The cut off earnings for a single member family is almost $11,500 while multi-family households the cutoff is $23,550.

Alabama has an estimated 145,000 people eligible for healthcare coverage. To date about 55,000 have enrolled thanks in part to organizations like Bama Covered.

"The main thing they ask is, 'How can I find a plan affordable for me and my family.' Every family is different. The system is complicated it depends on your family size," Dan Liss with Bama Covered said.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has been critical of the healthcare plan and has refused to accept Medicaid expansion as a part of it.

"If Medicaid expansion had been done in Alabama we would not be number 16 but number one. That is water under the bridge in a fight to be fought another day," Chris Mosley with Birmingham Healthcare said.

Monday, two UAB students tried to do their part. Ashleigh Staples and Ramsha Farrukh picked up reading materials about the healthcare act and dropped them off at area businesses.

"Some people don't know their options. So they are just very interested in what you have to say. Some people are alarmed you are talking to them about health insurance," Staples said.

Staples is a political science major and a junior at UAB has been drawn to promote healthcare because of the need in Jefferson County.

"I'm a political science major. It's complicated and it's even difficult for us to understand what's going into it," Staples said.

Farrukh plans to be a doctor and she was shocked to learn so many in Jefferson County lack healthcare insurance.

"My father is a doctor. I took healthcare insurance for granted as I was growing up. I was shocked in Birmingham, in Jefferson County we have a sixth of the state's uninsured which is crazy," Farrukh said.

Bama Covered was created to use students across the state to promote the healthcare plan.

"The energy these students have, they are relentless. I would say helping people understand their particular situation, what options are out there," Liss said.

"It's great thinking you are changing people's lives by going to talk to them," Staples said.

Several sign up sessions will be held across our area to help residents:

-Wednesday: Coosa Valley Medical Center, Sylacauga, 9 a.m.

-Thursday: Cooper Green Mercy Health Services, Birmingham, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

-Saturday: Bethel Baptist Church, Pratt City 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

-Sunday: Railroad Park, Birmingham, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on how to get enrollment help, please visit

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