PHOENIX -- Almost one million Arizonans eligible for health care insurance do not have it, and time for them to enroll is running out, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday in Phoenix.
Sebelius, who made an appearance at Civic Space Park in downtown Phoenix, encouraged people to sign up for health insurance from the Affordable Care Act before the enrollment deadline of March 31. Those eligible who do not sign up by then, she said, would have to wait until enrollment opened again later in the year, and they could not receive health care until 2015.
Anyone looking for health care on the marketplace has many options to choose from, she said. She also poked fun at the trouble Healthcare.gov, the online marketplace, experienced last year.
“You might have heard that it had a few challenges starting out, but it is operating very smoothly,” Sebelius said. “Healthcare.gov is running extremely smoothly and takes a high volume every day.”
Because Arizona has more than 950,000 eligible people who have yet to enroll, the Obama Administration has made it one of five states that will receive an enrollment push in the last month before the enrollment deadline.
The White House is especially focused on having young millennials, or “invincibles” as Sebelius referred to them, sign up for coverage. But some millennials don’t see a reason to pay for health care.
Nate Eklund, a 32-year-old Valley financial consultant, only gets an annual check-up, and he would rather pay a $1,000 fine than buy health insurance.
“Those fines will be cheaper for me for the next tax year than actually paying for the health insurance and still going to see the doctor twice a year,” Eklund said.
Sebelius disagreed with Eklund’s rationale, saying people cannot choose when they get sick.
“I hope he’ll reconsider,” she said. “It’s part of growing up, to actually take some responsibility for yourself and your family. He probably buys car insurance for his car.”
Of the 950,000 people who lack insurance, 40 percent are Latino, Sebelius said, and enrollment assistance will be available for anyone seeking coverage this Saturday at two events. One event, called Vive Tu Vida, will be held Saturday at John R. Davis Elementary School in Phoenix. The other is the Heart and Sol Wellness Festival, which also will be held Saturday in Civic Space Park.
Anyone seeking health care coverage through the federal marketplace can visit Healthcare.gov or call a toll-free number at 1-800-318-2596. People can also call 211 for assistance or referral information.