Hundreds show up to ACA sign-up event
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — The clock is ticking to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and that's why a crowd of El Pasoans came out to a massive sign-up event on Saturday for help enrolling.
"It's amazing. Listen, when I first came here around 10:15, I was way in the back, at the very end, at the back around the corner. So, it's amazing that all these people have shown up today," said Beatrice Brocker.
Nearly 500 uninsured El Pasoans came out to the Centro San Vicente Alameda Clinic for help signing up for the Affordable Care Act.
"Tells you the need of people who need health insurance, who need coverage in our community," said Jennifer Buschick with "Enroll El Paso."
With the deadline just a couple weeks away, and penalties for anybody still uninsured after that, Enroll El Paso and nearly a dozen more organizations put together the biggest sign-up event so far in the area.
"Unfortunately, at some point in our lives, we're going to need to visit the hospital, see a doctor, and if we don't have health insurance, it's going to be a lot more expensive than if we did," said Congressman Beto O'Rourke.
Event organizers helped people navigate the HealthCare.gov website, choose a plan they could afford, and signed them up on the dotted line.
El Pasoans like Ernesto Gonzalez said getting covered is a big relief.
"Now that I have my health care coverage, I feel more at ease, more safe, I guess," said Ernesto Gonzalez.
Organizers said about 24,000 uninsured El Pasoans actually qualify for insurance under the Affordable Care Act and more than 6000 have already signed up.
If you don't have insurance by March 31st, you'll be fined $95, or 1% of your income when you file your taxes in 2015.
If you go a second year without coverage, you'll need to pay $325 or 2% of your income, whichever is more.
The next sign-up period after March 31st begins November 15th.