Obamacare Enrollment Deadline Approaches - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Obamacare Enrollment Deadline Approaches

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SEAFORD, Del.- Sen. Tom Carper was in Seaford Tuesday at La Red, to tour the facility and to talk about the Affordable Care Act. With the enrollment deadline less than two weeks away, he was there to try and convince more people to sign up before it's too late. 

Like much of the country, Delaware had a rocky start with the exchange's opening in October. The latest numbers, released by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services said that nearly 7,000 residents had signed up by the end of February. The enrollment number was a 38 percent increase over January's total, but was still far below the state's original goal of 35,000. 

With the deadline on March 31, the big question is how many will enroll to avoid a fine. Those that don't sign up will either have to pay a fine of $95 per adult or $47.50 per child or pay one percent of their household income, whichever is larger between the two. By 2016, this minimum payment will increase to $695 for adults.

At La Red, Carper said getting people to sign up was crucial. 

"The major driver of healthcare costs is when people are sick," he said. "They get really sick. They don't have healthcare coverage. Eventually they get it. They go to the emergency room. They get hospitalized, it's a big bill and the rest of us pay for it. It doesn't make sense." 

Shelly Maxey is the assistant manager at Hard To Handle, a restaurant adjacent to La Red. She said she enrolled to avoid the fine. She said she could afford the insurance, but said that's not the case for everyone. She said adding a fine for those people is unfair. 

"I think it is kicking someone while they're down," she said. "I mean - you shouldn't have to pay a fine because you didn't file. People can't afford it." 

But others like Christine Brooks said the law was a godsend. She is a breast cancer survivor who was ineligible for coverage due to her pre-existing condition, until the law was passed. 

"We would travel, she said. "And I'd think, 'Oh my God -- I'm going to go out somewhere have a car accident, and that's it.' It's walking a double edged sword all the time."

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