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On Last Day Of Enrollment, Shoppers Rush To Sign Up For Health Insurance

Gabriel Spitzer
Ingrid Nielsen, a volunteer with Public Health Seattle & King County, is seen helping directing people to the enrollment event.

Midnight Monday marks the end of the first open enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. That means most people without insurance come Tuesday will have to wait seven months to sign up.

In spite of some outages, last-minute shoppers have mobbed the websites for state and federal exchanges. And they also showed up in person at King County’s public health headquarters for an eleventh-hour enrollment event.

Many of the consumers had tried to sign up online at some point only to be thwarted by glitches with either the website or their own data.

Columbia City barber Jameel Shabazz says he and his wife made it through most of the process online, but were directed to in-person help to actually pull the trigger, which he says he doesn’t mind.

“I just know that you got to put some work in to get everything done. I didn’t want to keep jumping around; I wanted to go to one place and get it all taken care of. It’s crunch time, you know?” he said.

Those who miss out on crunch time can still sign up if they have a major life change like switching jobs or getting married. And anyone who qualifies for Medicaid can sign up for coverage year-round.

The deadline applies only to people buying health plans on the individual market, not to people who get coverage through work.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.