Roosevelt County farmer Robert Burnett feels the urgency to sign up for health insurance as the open enrollment deadline for the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange nears.
Burnett, like many other individuals in the state, is at risk of being penalized if he does not attain health insurance by March 31, per federal requirement.
Burnett, 61, said he attended the NMHIX event Monday at the Yam Theatre to learn about his options for health insurance.
The Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce and La Casa health clinic-sponsored event was held to inform and sign up individuals for the NMHIX.
Burnett said the seminar made the task of getting health insurance feel like less of a problem.
“The computers seem to be going through the program real easy and La Casa said they’d help me sign up which is real nice,” Burnett said.
Burnett is four years shy of qualifying for Medicare. He’s in the boat with about 200,000 New Mexicans who are eligible for premium subsidizes through the NMHIX, according to Monday’s presenter, Steve Morgan with Bosque Consulting.
“I just worry about the people who flat-out don’t have insurance,” Morgan said as he opened up the seminar.
Once the enrollment period ends, individuals will not be able to sign up for insurance until about October, according to Morgan.
Morgan added individuals who do not sign up by the deadline are subjected to a penalty of a flat fee or a percentage of taxable income.
Morgan said the cost of health care through the plans in the exchange has gone up but individuals above 400 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for a tax credit.
Morgan said the Affordable Care Act puts limits on how much people pay out of pocket.
Morgan presented the different levels of insurance plans that have metal themes.
“If you want the Cadillac, you go with the gold or platinum plans.
But Morgan said essential health benefits identified by the exchange, such as primary care, fall under all of the plans.
Morgan said as of Feb. 1, 11,620 individuals have signed up through the exchange, with 38 percent of that group being ages 55-64.