Mid-Missourians sign up for health insurance as deadline nears

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COLUMBIA - Columbia residents were preparing Saturday for the deadline to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act's open enrollment period ends Sunday at midnight. Those not signed up for health care at that time who wish to obtain coverage through the Affordable Care Act must qualify for a special enrollment period.

If you do not have a health insurance plan for at least nine months of 2015, you could face a penalty on your taxes when you file in 2016. That charge would be 2 percent of your income or $325 per adult and $162.50 per child, whichever is more.

Some people in downtown Columbia Saturday didn't express any interest in signing up for the coverage and many were already covered through employers or other agencies. One person said she tried to sign up but was unsuccessful.

Residents were also signing up at the Columbia Public Library, which was offering health care enrollment all weekend. Beverly Pischel is a Columbia resident who said she moved here to live with her sister. She was signing up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act Saturday.

"I just want to know what it's all about, what my options are," Pischel said.

While some say the new health insurance policy forces people to sign up, Pischel said differently.

"I don't really look at it as being forced," she said. "I look at it as an opportunity. I haven't had health insurance for probably 20 years."

Pischel said she wishes she had coverage for "dental and vision" expenses.

Primaris Healthcare Business Solutions will hold enrollment help Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for those hoping to get a last-minute plan. The event will be held at Primaris, 200 N. Keene St. in Columbia.