CONYERS — With the deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act looming, one area church is hosting an event to help people enroll.
Pamela Cooper, community liaison for All Nations Life and Praise Church, said an enrollment event will be held Tuesday, March 4, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the church located at 3060 Ga. Highway 155, Stockbridge. The deadline to enroll without penalty is March 31. Attendees are asked to bring a photo ID and income information to the event, and to have an email account already set up to expedite enrollment.
Cooper, who also works as community program manager at Morehouse School of Medicine, said certified navigators will be onsite to guide citizens through the process and help them choose the insurance plan that is right for them.
Cooper said the event was organized at the urging of Senior Pastor Keith Brooks who was concerned that residents outside metro Atlanta weren’t receiving as much assistance. Cooper said Brooks has also been promoting health, health resources and wellness from the pulpit.
Church members had also expressed concern about their own family members who had not signed up for health insurance.
“A lot of the members of the church were actually concerned over the fact that a lot of their grandchildren — who are adults — did not have health insurance — and they had jobs,” she said.
Cooper said concern over low enrollment numbers isn’t isolated to the outskirts of metro Atlanta.
“I’ve been assisting the Department of Health and Human Services set up different sites for people to do the enrollment, and a lot of times they have been low in attendance,” she said. “I think people are not realizing that if you have an income and you do your taxes (and don’t have insurance) you are going to be penalized.”
The penalty, she said, is 1 percent of income or $95, whichever is greater.
Cooper attributed low attendance at enrollment events to several factors.
“In some cases, because so much negative information has been out about it, people are not sure whether or not it is something they can actually afford,” she said. “They don’t know that if you qualify, you could get a federal subsidy to assist you. Some don’t want to do it because of computer problems, not realizing that when you go to one of these events you get one-on-one counseling. They are helping you decide which plan is best for you.”
Some enrollees may actually find they are eligible for Medicaid due to pre-existing conditions, she said.
Sponsors of Tuesday’s enrollment event will provide navigators to help citizens go through the enrollment process. Sponsors are Morehouse School of Medicine Clinical Center, Parent2Parent, Oakhurst Medical Center, SEEDCO, Cognosante and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Cooper said she is available to help other organizations plan enrollment events. For more information, call 404-752-1975.