You Have Until December 15th to Sign Up for Health Care

Photo by PA Senate Democrats

Dozens sign up for affordable healthcare at senator tartaglione’s enrollment event.

State Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione helped more than 20 people obtain health insurance coverage for 2018 as she hosted the Pennsylvania Senate Democrats’ Affordable Care Act enrollment tour at her district office in Northwood on Nov. 21.

About two dozen healthcare consumers visited Tartaglione’s office at 1061 Bridge St. during the four-hour session, where they consulted with certified enrollment specialists, representatives from the state’s Insurance Department and the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, along with private insurers. Visitors received expert help signing up for ACA coverage – commonly known as Obamacare – as well as Medicare.

Pennsylvania Senate Democrats organized the seven-stop statewide tour in response to severe budget cuts instituted by the federal government this year on the ACA enrollment program. The Trump administration cut the enrollment period in half from three months to just six weeks. The new deadline is Dec. 15. Also, the administration slashed the ACA marketing budget by 90 percent and the funding for enrollment specialists, also known as navigators, by almost half.

“Access to healthcare is a vital need for all people. Yet because of the federal government’s latest Obamacare cutbacks, many Americans won’t get the help they need to sign up for insurance,” Tartaglione said. “The holidays are a busy time of year and many folks may not hear about the shorter enrollment period until it’s too late. Through our ACA tour, we are enrolling people for coverage and raising awareness about the new ACA deadline.”

Photo by PA Senate Democrats

“With open enrollment being shorter this year, there was a real concern that people would miss it,” said Dave Buono, consumer liaison for the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. “We want to make sure folks know they can still get affordable health insurance. If people are waiting until the last minute this year and they think the deadline is Jan. 31, they’re going to miss it.”

Following stops in Cheltenham and East Falls on Nov. 16, then Tartaglione’s office on Nov. 21, the tour is scheduled to visit Bethlehem on Nov. 28, Scranton and Carbondale on Nov. 30 and finally Pittsburgh on Dec. 7. Visitors to Tartaglione’s office were relieved to get the help they needed.

“They made it real easy,” said Toni Gallelli, a nurse from Philadelphia’s Castor Gardens section. “I never had to do this before. Thank God I don’t have any health problems but I’ll be 60 in a few weeks and I have to go to my doctor for check-ups. It’s a preventative comfort.”

“Being a recent retiree, healthcare is probably the most expensive component I have to worry about going into the future,” said Carol Voutsinos, also from Castor Gardens. “You want to get a plan that’s the most cost-effective for you number one, and one that offers all you need. You have to maintain a healthy lifestyle as you age.”

“I got a better understanding of health insurance talking with the navigators,” said Magdeline Tyler of Olney. “I went through a time with no health insurance. I got pneumonia and had to go to the hospital and ended up with a $30,000 bill.”

Consumers can enroll with the Affordable Care Act by visiting healthcare.gov. Pennsylvania Senate Democrats have established their own site to provide consumers with information about their health insurance options. Visit HealthcareForPA.com.

Office of State Senator Christine M. Tartaglione