Health consultant says is more user friendly

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COLUMBIA -  The ultimate deadline to sign up for health coverage through the federal exchange is Jan. 31st.

Thursday was the final deadline to sign up and be guaranteed coverage starting Jan. 1. 

The program manager at Primaris Foundation, Jeremy Milarsky, said that people who do not make the deadline can still sign up for coverage; however, he said if they sign up next week the earliest coverage will begin is Feb. 1. 

Those that wait until the final day of open enrollment on Jan. 31, their coverage will begin Mar. 1. 

"There is a 15-day rule. If you sign up before the 15th of the month, your coverage is effective the first day of the next month. However, if you sign up after the 15th your coverage will start the following month," Milarsky said. 

 He said signing up has been a lot smoother this year because people are being told what's going on.

"Before there wasn't much of an error screen, the site would just crash." 

He said there's been a great improvement in terms of actual crashes. 

"I would say I may have seen one or two and we have seen a lot of clients since November 1st. The actual system failing, we're not seeing that nearly as much as we did the first couple weeks of fall 2013," Milarsky said. 

He said the longest delays happen when people have to recover their passwords. 

"The federal government has said that people making a good faith attempt to get in before the deadline will get in," Milarsky said. 

Additionally, he said a lot of anxiety is caused around the system because of lack of knowledge. 

"It's a process you shouldn't just try to get through. It's something you should spend some time thinking about," he said. 

Primaris is free and open to the public to help walk people through the process. Consultants are also available at Daniel Boone Regional Library every Saturday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Milarsky said this will continue until the end of the official open enrollment period on Jan. 31.