NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/NewsChannel 5) - U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has made a last-minute push to get Tennesseans to sign up for insurance through the federal health care exchange before a March 31 deadline.
Sebelius was joined by Mayor Karl Dean at the United Neighborhood Health Services building in Madison to urge Tennesseans to sign up before March 31.
As of March 1, only 77,867 Tennesseans had enrolled, but more than 369,000 are eligible. That's less than half of what the Obama administration estimated. However, Tennessee has signed up more uninsured people than most other states its size.
State Department of Commerce and Insurance officials have cautioned uninsured Tennesseans that they may find it challenging to get health insurance if they wait after the deadline for open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act.
Insurers said one of the reasons for the deadline is to make sure people don't wait until they get sick to purchase health insurance.
Open enrollment ends March 31, but people who have started an application but were not able to finish enrolling will be given a short amount of extra time.
People who lose job-based insurance or have other life-changing events may be able to enroll after the deadline.
Sebelius also made a plug Thursday in Nashville for expanding Medicaid in Tennessee, saying that the state is losing out on $6.2 million a day in federal funds. Sebelius said 520,000 uninsured Tennesseans would qualify for expanded Medicaid. And she said that taxpayers and hospitals are currently footing the bill for their care.
Governor Bill Haslam last year declined to accept the Medicaid money without special arrangements for the state. So far, nothing has come of that, and some Republicans in the Legislature have signaled reluctance to accept any deal with the federal government.
For more information, visit healthcare.gov.
The following enrollment events have been announced for the Nashville area:
United Neighborhood Health Service
601 Due West Avenue, Madison 37115
- March 27-28, 2014
- 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.
- March 28, 2014
- 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Matthew Walker Health Center
1035 14th Avenue North, Nashville 37208
- March 28, 2014
- 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
Get Covered Nashville Event
615 Church Street, Nashville 37203
- March 29, 2014
- 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
- March 31, 2014
- 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Columbia State College
104 Claude Yates Drive, Franklin 37064
- March 27, 2014
- 3:35 p.m. until 6 p.m.