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Last-Minute Help To Sign Up For Health Insurance

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Photo: Video by NewsChannel5.com

Last-Minute Help To Sign Up For Health Insurance

CREATED Mar 31, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Those who don't have health insurance and are required to get it under the Affordable Care Act have until 11 p.m. Monday to begin signing up for coverage, or else they risk having to pay a penalty.

Dozens of people in Nashville were busy taking advantage of the weekend to get signed up on Sunday during an event at the Southeast branch of the Metro Library sponsored by the group "Get Covered Nashville."

Volunteers admit, with 72 different plans to choose from, navigating the healthcare marketplace can be confusing for some.

Get Covered Nashville will also be at the main Metro Nashville Public Library on Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. if you need help signing up for a health insurance plan.

"It is kind of intimidating," said Tony Garr, a volunteer with Get Covered Nashville. "At the same time, I think the public libraries offer a good place for people to come and get good information."

Click here for a full list of locations open to help you sign up for health insurance across middle Tennessee.

So far, about 4 out of every 5 people enrolling have qualified for tax credits to reduce the cost of their premiums.

Here's what you need to know:

— The sign-up website stumbled on deadline day. Visitors to HealthCare.gov on Monday morning saw messages that the site was down for maintenance. At times the visitors were also directed to a virtual waiting room — a feature designed to ease the strain on the site during periods of heavy use. Officials attributed the problem to a software bug.

— The deadline is at midnight EDT for the states where the federal government is running the sign-up website; states running their own exchanges set their own deadlines.

— You can sign up online by going to HealthCare.gov or your state insurance exchange. If you don't know what your state marketplace is called, HealthCare.gov will direct you.

—You can call 1-800-318-2596 to sign up by phone or get help from an enrollment specialist.

—Check online for sign-up centers that may be open locally, offering in-person assistance.

—If you started an application by Monday but didn't finish, perhaps because of errors, missing information or website glitches, you can take advantage of a grace period. The government says it will accept paper applications until April 7 and take as much time as necessary to handle unfinished cases on HealthCare.gov.

—Be prepared for the possibility of long wait times.

(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)