Troubled start on final day for healthcare enrollment -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Troubled start on final day for healthcare enrollment

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The deadline to enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act has now arrived.

The uninsured who elect not to enroll by Monday’s deadline will face a first-year penalty of one percent of their income, with gradual rate increases over the next three years.

Already Monday morning, users were encountering error messages on the Federal health insurance exchange, stating the site was down for maintenance. That follows a warning from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Friday, during a last minute push for Texans to sign up at an event in Austin. Sebelius warned the administration expects delays due to heavy traffic and last minute shoppers rushing to sign up.

So far, six million people have signed up nationwide, short of the Obama administration’s original goal of 7 million. Of that, only 295,00 Texans have enrolled, which is less than half of the 629,000 that the White House aimed for. Texas is considered a critical piece to the healthcare overhaul, as the state with the highest number of uninsured citizens in the country.

Approximately 47% of the uninsured population also qualifies for large subsidies to help pay for their insurance, but of the over 2.6 million eligible, few have signed up.

According to Forbes, premiums for the coming year have increased on average 26% in Texas, however individual rates are determined on a case by case basis. Typically, young men have seen the highest increases, with women and the elderly hit less by rate hikes. Premiums are determined using a combination of location, type of plan, income, age, number of people on the plan and whether or not the consumer uses tobacco.

In Texas, enrollment on the troubled website closes at 11 P.M. Central time on Monday.

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