Health insurance deadline is approaching to have coverage at beginning of year

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The deadline is next Monday, December 15, for uninsured Americans to get health insurance. That's if they want coverage to start January 1.

Niang Kim and her dad met with a counselor for Enroll Wyandotte. They want to get health insurance for his father who hasn't lived in the U.S. long enough to qualify for Medicare. But they can buy coverage for him through the Health Insurance Marketplace at http://www.healthcare.gov

"We're afraid to go to the hospital or see the doctor because we know it will cost a lot without insurance or something like that. So it would mean a lot. That's for sure," said Kim.

Molly Moffett says Enroll Wyandotte has had steady traffic.

"But not as steady as I think we should be with that deadline looming," said Moffett.

Monday is the deadline if you want coverage to start January 1. The final deadline to get coverage for 2015 and avoid a tax penalty is February 15.

Moffett says even if you had coverage this year through the marketplace, you'll want to shop around. That's because she's seen some premiums rise as much as $100 a month.

"We're helping people find plans that are more affordable for them," she said.

Many people qualify for subsidies that help bring down the cost, although Moffett says others are disappointed to learn they don't qualify. They fall into the coverage gap that was created when Kansas and Missouri didn't expand Medicaid.

After 90 minutes, Kim and her dad were still in the enrollment process.

"A little long, but it go pretty well so far," she said.

Moffett says most enrollments take about an hour.

Call 2-1-1, the United Way helpline, to find help near you in enrolling.

The penalty for not having coverage next year will be $325 per adult or 2% of annual income, whichever is higher.