Time is running out for those trying to enroll in Covered California-- the state's version of the Affordable Care Act. The deadline is Monday, March 31, at 11:59 p.m.
On this last day to enroll, Rigoberto Lopez says this is now his third attempt.
"It's broken--the website. I need to fill out the paperwork," Lopez says through broken English.
He went for help at Kaiser Permanente's retail shop, KP, and although he received some help there, he was redirected to the Centro La Familia advocacy group to receive additional help.
Monday afternoon, the waiting room at Centro La Familia was overflowing with people also waiting to enroll.
"We're having to do applications on paper, and so that requires a little bit of time to plan and go through all of that, but we're definitely working with all of the challenges," says Margarita Rocha, executive director at Centro La Familia.
Monday, increased traffic on Covered California's website slowed the system to a crawl.
At Centro La Familia, certified enrollment counselors opted for paper applications instead.
"So with the volume of people that we have in the intake, it would be impossible if we wait until the system comes back--we'd be here the whole day maybe assisting just five clients," says Ana Palomares with Centro La Familia.
Monday's big push follow's the efforts this past weekend where several community-based groups helped alleviate the confusion for those enrolling for the Affordable Care Act.
"So we know there's more information and there's more awareness of where to go. It's just time has run out," says Sandra Celedon-Castro, manager with Fresno Building Healthy Communities.
She adds that for those who do not qualify for coverage under Covered California or Medi-Cal, health care services are available through Fresno County's Medically Indigent Services Program (MISP).
According to Covered California, those who've started an application by Monday's deadline and have gotten past the consent for verification page will have until April 15 at 11:59 p.m. to finish their applications.
Those who don't meet Monday's deadline are subject to penalties of $95 per adult and $47.50 per child or one percent of their income.
The penalties increase significantly next year.
For those who qualify for Medi-Cal, there is no deadline.
To sign up online for Covered California, visit www.coveredca.com.
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