Important deadline Monday for Affordable Care Act

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SALT LAKE CITY &mdqash; Monday is the deadline to sign up for health care under the Affordable Care Act if you want coverage to start on Jan. 1.

That brings a sense of urgency. However, there are last minute options for those looking to enroll for health insurance before the deadline.

Just hours before President Barack Obama's final press conference for the year, the website was deliberately shut down to fix an error, according to the health and human services department. Still, it left President Obama once again defending his landmark legislation.

"When you try to do something this big, affecting this many people, it's going to be hard," he said.

Since Monday is the deadline, that means visitors could overwhelm the system once again.

"It is kind of frustrating for everybody but we have to overcome it," said Manny Garcia, president of G&G Insurance.

He is one of dozens of Utah agents helping people navigate between the website and the marketplace.

"The agents, we have a lot of experience with what's going on, so we're kind of used to the system," he said.

Lourdes Cooke, director of community outreach for Arches Health Plan, said, "If you procrastinate, things can get worse. In addition to that, I think this law provides insurance that particularly takes care of preventative sorts of issues."

That's the resounding sentiment of Affordable Care Act supporters like Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY. "People are saying, 'Wow, I am getting better care at lower cost.' I think that's going to preface what's happening throughout the country."

Red flag
Agents say watch out for con artists trying to lure people into paying them to help register for healthcare coverage. Bill Gephardt has more on scammers capitalizing on confusion over Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, those who had their health insurances cancelled won't be slammed with fines, according to health and human services and some members of Congress.

"Myself and Mark Kirk introduced a bill," said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, "the only bipartisan bill that says why don't we wait basically before we put any crimes or fines until January 1, 2015."

Those who sign up for health care by Monday must pay their first premium by Dec. 31. Others have until March 31 to sign up.


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